Choosing the Right CPAP Mask by Sleeping Position

Many people in America live with sleep apnea, a condition characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep; sleep apnea usually causes chronic snoring. While there is no cure, many persons with sleep apnea treat their signs with positive air pressure (PAP) therapy.

PAP therapy encompasses an airflow generator that draws in outside air utilizing a motorized fan, humidifies and pressurizes the air, and delivers the air to the sleeper through a connective hose and face mask. Typical forms of PAP therapy include continuous positive air pressure (CPAP), bi-level positive air pressure (BiPAP), and automatic positive air pressure (APAP).

PAP therapy has proven beneficial for many with sleep apnea, but this treatment method has its weaknesses. One notable disadvantage is sleeper discomfort due to the position of the mask and connective hose. The sleeper’s chosen position may compound this problem, depending on the size and shape of their mask and how the connective tube is arranged.

This guide will look at different mask choices for PAP therapy recipients, recommended mask options for major sleep positions, and some additional strategies for staying comfortable and well-rested while wearing a PAP mask.

CPAP Mask for Side Sleeping

CPAP MaskSide sleeping is the most common sleep position. According to many sleep professionals, it is also the healthiest, particularly sleeping on the left side; sleeping on the right side can apply excessive strain on the stomach, liver, and kidneys.

Popular side sleeping positions include Log, fetal, and Yearner

Some CPAP mask considerations for side sleepers comprise:

  • Pillow position and loft: Since one side of a side sleeper’s face will come into contact with their pillow, bulkier masks may not be suitable, mostly inflexible models or have thin seals. These models may slip off the face in places, which can result in air leakage. Pillow loft (or thickness) is crucial because high-loft pillows are likelier to disrupt airflow than medium- or low-loft pillows.
  • Specialized pillows: Some sleeping pillows are precisely designed for CPAP mask wearers that utilize the side position. These pillows have cutouts at the sides where the mask and connective tube can fit; these cutouts ensure the sleeper’s head won’t rest on the pillow at an uneven angle. Some of these pillows also feature straps that assist secure the connective hose and keep it in place.
  • Facial irritation: Resting with one’s face on a pillow can cause discomfort in places where the mask presses into the skin. For this reason, masks with softer edges incline to cause less irritation.
  • Headgear: Most CPAP masks have headgear that links at the back of the head, but some may feature side buckles or fasteners; discomfort may result when the pillow presses these components into the side of the sleeper’s head or face.

Our CPAP mask preference: Any full face or nasal cradle mask that has softer edges, or any nasal pillow or prong mask. Back-fastening headgear is significant too.

Choosing a CPAP Mask for Combination Sleepers

Use Sleep Apnea MachineThe term ‘combination sleeper’ refers to any person who uses one or more of the positions on a nightly basis. Some combination sleepers switch between side, back, and stomach sleeping, while others flip to various positions of the same type (such as the log and the yearner for side sleepers). Combination sleeping has one exclusive benefit: by switching positions, sleepers tend to have better circulation.

Some CPAP mask considerations for combination sleepers are as follows:

  • Swiveling elbow ports: For many combination sleepers, a swiveling elbow port will be essential; their flexible design makes sure that sleepers can shift positions without compromising their airflow. Fixed elbow ports are probable to become disconnected or cause discomfort during position changes.
  • Arm and hand interference: As is the case with back sleepers, combination sleepers are more vulnerable to interfering with their mask and connective tube when they switch positions, especially if they move their arms and hands in the process.

Our CPAP mask commendation: Any mask could be suitable for a combination sleeper; it mainly depends on which positions they switch between during the night. A good rule of thumb for many is to select a CPAP mask based on the primary position they use. For instance, someone who predominantly sleeps on their side may find that full-face or nasal cradle masks with softer edges, or nasal pillow or nasal prong masks are the most relaxed.

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