If you have sleep apnea, then you stop breathing many times in the middle of the night while you are trying to sleep. This can cause major disruptions in your sleep cycle, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is often utilized to keep oxygen flowing through the body. This type of therapy is administered with a CPAP machine that is used every night. Some people have difficulties feeling comfortable using the machines though. This can greatly reduce the effectiveness of the therapy, so follow the tips below to ensure better comfort.
Find The Right Type Of Mask
CPAP machines feature masks that fit over the nose or the nose and mouth. Once the mask is secured, air is forced into the lungs to make sure that the airways are kept open. This allows you to breathe normally during the night. There are many different mask varieties you can choose from, and choosing the right mask can ensure your comfort.
- Nasal pillow - Features a small compartment beneath the nose that secures to two side hoses. Protrusions attach to the nostrils and force air through the nasal passages. This device is ideal if a full mask feels claustrophobic or if you want to wear your glasses while the CPAP machine is working
- Nasal cushion - This device is a small cup or mask that fits over the nose. Hose devices attach over the head and allow you to sleep on your side without obstruction.
- Full face mask - The mask fits over both the nose and the mouth. The device works well if you often breathe through your mouth while sleeping. Also, the mask is more secure if you toss and turn at night.
Once you have chosen a mask that you think is ideal, then you also need to make sure to purchase the correct size. Nasal masks often come in standard and wide varieties while full face masks are offered in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. You can measure your nose and mouth and look at the corresponding dimensions of the available masks for your CPAP machine, or you can fit a template over your face before purchase.
Consider Wearing A Baseball Cap
Almost all CPAP machines use straps to attach masks to the face. This is necessary to create a tight seal around the device so that pressurized air does not leak out the sides of the mask. Straps attach around the chin, forehead, ears, and the back of the head. These straps can be tight, constricting, and generally uncomfortable. You can ensure comfort by making sure the CPAP chin strap is cushioned and made out of a polyester lined elastic material. You also can wear a baseball cap underneath the straps that attach to the head.
Place a baseball cap on your head before you secure your CPAP machine. A cap with an unstructured or low crown is best, because cardboard and heavy buckram fabrics will not be forced against your head. Brushed cotton varieties are also softer on the skin, and closures should be made from velcro. With the cap secured, attach the straps in place.
The baseball cap will keep straps from slipping and it will also cushion your skin and prevent marks on the face. The bill of the cap may also support tubes or hoses so the components are not disrupted while you sleep.
Add A Heated Humidifier
CPAP machines work by forcing cold air from the environment in your bedroom through the tubes attached to the device. This air is often dry and fast moving. This can cause the mucous membranes within the nose to dry out. You may experience nose bleeds, sore throats, and general discomfort due to this. If these side effects make your CPAP machine seem uncomfortable, then consider purchasing a heated humidifier that attaches to the base of the CPAP unit.
Heated humidifiers will warm and moisten the air just before it enters the tube attached to your mask. This can keep your nasal passages moist, but you need to make sure that water does not accumulate within the hose. To reduce condensation, make sure the CPAP machine and the tubes are kept at the same height as your head or bed. Also, if you keep your bedroom cold, then purchase or make a tube cover so the air within the hose does not have the opportunity to cool down before it enters your nose.
If you need to use a CPAP machine at night, then you need to make sure that the device works properly. You also should make sure that it is comfortable, so you want to use it every night.