Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is one of the most popular treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. The American Thoracic Society reports that obstructive sleep apnea has a global prevalence rate of between 3% and 7%, and is becoming more prevalent. Knowing how to use your CPAP device correctly can help you achieve more consistent, quality sleep, and reduce symptoms related to your sleep disorder.
Here’s a guide to utilizing CPAP and tips on how to make your CPAP machine work as efficiently as possible.
What is CPAP?
CPAP is a machine that delivers a continuous stream of airway pressure to keep your airway open and prevent it from collapsing while you sleep. CPAP devices were initially developed during the 1980s to treat individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, and have advanced over the years to provide a higher level of patient comfort and treatment efficacy. A CPAP machine is typically made up of a face mask, tube, and motor.
CPAP headgear is available in the form of a large mask that shields the nose and mouth or a smaller mask that covers only the nose. Some machines use nasal plugs that fit comfortably into the nostrils instead of a face mask. A CPAP hose or tube connects the mask or nasal plugs to the motor, which blows air into the tube to maintain the airway open while you sleep.
CPAP Machine User Guide
Each CPAP device is slightly different from the next and has its own set of instructions for utilization and maintenance. Your doctor will show you how to use and wear your CPAP equipment correctly, and provide you with detailed instructions.
Installing the CPAP filters is typically the initial step in using CPAP, followed by attaching the CPAP hose and mask. The CPAP device should be placed on a flat, stable surface near your bed, such as a nightstand or dresser. The device’s vents should be positioned at least 12 inches away from the wall, curtains, and other objects to allow for clean, unobstructed airflow.
When you’re ready to go to sleep, you can fit the face mask over your head or insert the nasal plugs, then turn on the device. The pressure settings should already be set according to the prescription issued by your physician. Lie back on your pillow and relax, and focus on taking natural, even breaths as the CPAP device does its work.
Tips for Getting Used to CPAP
Sleeping with CPAP may take some time getting used to, but steps can take to ensure your transition period goes smoothly.
First, wear the CPAP headgear for a brief time during the day while relaxing at home to get used to the way it feels on your face. Use CPAP while watching TV, browsing the Internet, or reading a book. You will also require to utilize CPAP any time you lie down to take a nap.
Next, invest in a set of earplugs to wear while sleeping, or place a piece of foam under the CPAP motor if you think the device will keep you awake at night. The CPAP device can serve as an effective source of white noise, though some may be bothered by the new, unfamiliar sound.
Lastly, check to see whether your CPAP machine has a ramp mode feature, and use this setting until you’ve adjusted to using the equipment. The ramp mode feature progressively increases the air pressure level as you fall asleep, so it doesn’t feel as though you’re receiving an overwhelming heavy flow of powerful air.
Setting Yourself Up for CPAP Success
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea and require CPAP treatment, consider employing an at-home sleep test to help your doctor diagnose your sleep condition. A sleep study test and a proper diagnosis from a physician can bring you one step closer toward improving your sleep hygiene and achieving a quality night’s sleep.