Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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CPAP - Variations

Types of PAP therapy

There are several forms of PAP therapy other than CPAP. All forms of PAP therapy keep the airway open during the night by providing a stream of air:


Automatically-adjusting Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) therapy automatically raises or lowers the air pressure as needed during the night.


BPAP devices have two alternating levels of pressure. When you breathe in air the pressure rises. The pressure decreases as you breathe out. If you have a problem with CPAP or APAP, the board-certified sleep medicine physician may recommend BPAP. He or she may also suggest BPAP if you have sleep apnea along with another breathing disorder.

Types of Masks

There are three common types of masks for CPAP. No matter what type of mask you use, it is important that it fits well and is comfortable.

Nasal mask

This mask only covers your nose. This is the most common type of CPAP mask.

Full face mask

This mask covers both your nose and your mouth. This type of mask may help if you have air leaks when using a nasal mask.

Nasal pillows

This mask uses soft silicone tubes that fit directly in your nose. This may help if you have air leaks or don’t like the feeling of a mask over your nose and face. Some users claim nasal pillows give them a better sense of freedom.


Humidifiers for CPAP can help reduce side effects associated with the treatment and make it easier for you to breathing through your mask. Some people may have nasal irritation or drainage from using CPAP. A humidifier can reduce these side effects by providing cool or heated moisture to the air coming from the CPAP unit. Many modern CPAP units come with a humidifier connected with the machine.

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