CPAP machines are a critical part of treating sleep apnea but getting used to using one isn’t always easy for first-timers. From air leaks to finding the right mask, getting the right setup can feel like trying to relearn how to sleep. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease the transition to using your CPAP machine. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to navigate the adjustment period on your way to a better night’s sleep.
Accept Your New Normal
You’ve just found out that you’re going to need to use a CPAP machine for the foreseeable future. Now what? Adding a CPAP machine to your nightly sleep routine is an undoubtedly big adjustment, and it’s normal to have concerns about how you’re going to adapt to your new normal. You’re not alone. Studies have shown that there are many out there who have such a hard time acclimating to their new machines that they end up quitting their treatment.
Before images of unruly hoses and uncomfortable masks fill your thoughts, ask yourself: when was the last time I woke up feeling refreshed? This may even be what you’re going through now. You deserve to feel great every day, but you won’t get there without using your CPAP machine. Beyond how you feel, CPAP therapy leads to many health benefits that are too important to ignore.
Better sleep is within your reach. Stick with your sleep apnea therapy and you’ll be well on your way to a happier and healthier you.
Although you should be using your CPAP machine whenever you go to sleep, you don’t need to dive in all at once. There’s something to be said for taking it slow, especially considering using your machine is a significant change to your routine. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try that will make the dream of getting a full night’s rest a reality.
Start by wearing your CPAP mask for short periods during the day so you can get used to how it feels. When you’re feeling more comfortable with it, attach the mask to the machine via the hose and turn it on so you can get acclimated to the sound and airflow. You can do this while you’re awake at first before trying it out during a nap.
Easing into using your CPAP machine will make it easier to sleep at night while giving you the chance to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed before you use your machine full time. Making these adjustments will go a long way toward helping you stick with using your CPAP machine.
Make Sure You Have the Right Mask
What kind of sleeper are you? Answering this question will go a long way to ensuring you have a mask that works best for you. There are a variety of masks out there, and the ideal one is about much more than personal preference. Here are your choices:
- Nasal Pillow – These masks supply air at the nostrils and are a great choice if you have facial hair or if a traditional mask makes you feel claustrophobic.
- Nasal Mask – A nasal mask is a good fit if you need to have high air pressure or if you’re a restless sleeper.
- Full-Face Mask – Also known as an oronasal mask, this type covers the mouth and nose and is ideal if you’re a mouth breather or you have difficulties breathing through your nose.
No matter which mask you get, make sure that it fits well to prevent issues like nasal congestion or dry eyes that are commonly caused by air leaks. While it may be hard to choose the right one on your own, you won’t need to. Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the best fit.
In most cases, your CPAP machine’s standard equipment will be enough to provide effective sleep apnea therapy. Yet accessories can go a long way towards making treatment comfortable. If you breathe through your mouth when you sleep, your healthcare provider may suggest you try out a chin strap that will encourage you to breathe through your nose. Mask liners, on the other hand, help with skin irritation, while wall mount systems make it easier to organize your CPAP machine’s hoses.
These are just a few accessories that can make CPAP therapy a breeze. You can see more here.
Have Your CPAP Machine Set Up Well Before Bedtime
Creating a consistent bedtime routine can go a long way toward a good night’s sleep. Adding the setup of a CPAP machine when you’re supposed to be winding down can be an added stressor that can keep you awake. Clean your hose and mask and refill your humidifier with distilled water early in the day so that when you’re ready for bed, all you need to worry about is getting comfortable and dozing off.
Take Notes & Troubleshoot as Needed
From air leaks and skin irritation to difficulty breathing, don't be surprised if there are some initial challenges in the early days of using your CPAP machine. These are all solvable by incorporating accessories, changing your CPAP machine’s air pressure, or ensuring you have the right mask that fits well. Take note of any issues you’re having and your healthcare provider can help you make them a thing of the past.
Give It Time
As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. With such a major change to your lifestyle, it would be easy to give up on using your CPAP machine. While there are many ways to ease yourself into using your machine as well as a plethora of accessories that can make the transition easier, the only thing that will fully guarantee success with your therapy is patience. With time and consistency, your CPAP machine will become an essential part of your nightly sleep routine and you’ll get the kind of rest that will make a difference in your quality of life.