• Tips for Coping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine

    9/12/2015

    When you first learn you need to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine every time you sleep, you may feel limited, overwhelmed or even alarmed about the idea. But once you have the right machine and mask for you, you should be able to breathe easier and sleep better.

    Tips for Using a CPAP Machine When You Sleep

    Here are some strategies for making the transition to CPAP easier:

    Focus on the Positive.

    Using CPAP to treat your sleep apnea will improve the quality of your sleep and, therefore, the quality of your life. You will feel better and be healthier. And your partner won’t have to lose sleep listening to you snore, so your relationship may benefit.

    Pick the Best CPAP Machine for You. 

    Talk to your doctor about the many options available. CPAP machines vary, but many newer ones are as small as a shoe box and much quieter than they used to be. Some will also humidify the air, which may matter to you, depending on where you live. Health insurance plans usually cover CPAP machines, so if your machine is outdated, consider looking into getting a newer one.

    Pick a CPAP Mask That Fits You Well.

    There are many masks available. Some fit over the nose, while others fit over the nose and mouth. If the mask is uncomfortable, you won’t want to wear it. And most people who give up on CPAP do so because the mask is uncomfortable. You may need to try more than one to find the best fit for you.

    Monitor Your Symptoms or Side Effects and Discuss Them with Your Medical Team.

    When you use CPAP, you may have nasal congestion, dry mouth or skin irritation. You may also start snoring again even with the use of CPAP. Talk to your doctor about how to deal with these symptoms and about possibly readjusting your machine to make sure it is working properly.

    Take Your Machine with You.

    Even though you may need CPAP, you can still travel and sleep away from home. Newer machines can be used internationally with proper adapters or plugs for 240V outlets. Many machines are light enough and small enough to fit in your checked baggage when flying. Breathing machines, including CPAP machines, are also authorized to go through Airport Security and can usually be placed in carry-on baggage on a plane, if you prefer. (Check with the airline prior to your travel, just in case, so you’re not surprised if they tell you to check it when you check in for your flight.)

    You may also consider sending your CPAP machine by overnight mail to arrive at your travel destination, although this is somewhat risky since you’d be without it for that one night and longer if the mail were delayed for any reason.

    Make Sure You Have a Battery Backup for Your CPAP Machine.

    Check with the supplier of your CPAP machine, but if your machine doesn’t have a battery included, many machines can be hooked up to a 12V battery. In the event of a power outage, you will be glad you have the battery in place. Depending on what type of battery you have, it may need to be recharged after every night, or possibly after every three or four nights.

    Don’t Give Up!

    Because CPAP is a treatment and not a cure, it will only work to prevent sleep apnea if you use it every time you go to sleep. Stick with it. Getting good-quality sleep will make you feel better and be healthier in the long run.

    Learn More


    Poor sleep quality may raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. Learn more about the connection between sleep and cardiovascular health here.  For sleep-better strategies, click here.