Tips for falling asleep while wearing a CPAP mask

August 26, 2016

Tips for falling asleep while wearing a CPAP mask

As I’ve mentioned here before, it took me a long time to get accustomed to my CPAP therapy.  Between ill-fitting masks, feeling a little claustrophobic, getting used to the feeling of airflow and pressure, it was about a month before I was falling asleep regularly with my CPAP mask. 

Let me assure you, this is all very normal. 

If you’re new to CPAP therapy, try wearing just the CPAP mask around the house – without the machine attached.  Do it during the day, while watching TV or reading (if your mask allows for that).  Just get used to the feel of it. 

An OSA patient (and our newest CPAPal) who emailed us at likened it to getting used to Invisalign orthodontic treatment.  For those who don’t know, Invisalign is basically a series of plastic trays you wear that, over time, straightens your teeth.  The more you wear ‘em each day, the quicker your teeth become straight.  Similarly, the more you wear your CPAP mask, the quicker you become accustomed to how it feels.

Other tricks, like using a ramp setting (if you CPAP machines has it) to gradually increase the air pressure as you fall asleep can help too.

But simple things like practicing good sleep habits are most likely to help you the most:

  • Going to bed at a regular time every night and abiding by a strict sleep ritual (eg: brush teeth, put on mask, read one chapter, turn on CPAP machine, read a few more pages, turn off light, Zzzzz) will tell your body it’s time to shut down. 
  • Avoiding sugary, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks (do they make one that contains all three?) before to bedtime. Delicious as they sound, they’ll keep you wired all night.
  • Exercise regularly. Even a brisk 30-minute walk in the evening will tucker you out just in time for ‘lights out’.
  • Take a warm bath.  And I’m not just talking to the ladies here.   Fellas, too!  If tough guys like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood can, so can you.
  • Avoid going to bed if you’re not tired. If you’re body doesn’t need it, it’ll just frustrate to lie there unable to sleep.

One more thing:  Be patient.  Babies don’t learn to sleep on command.  Kids have a hard time at bedtime.  There’s no reason why you should expect to fall asleep right away wearing your new CPAP mask.  It may take a few days or longer, but rest assured, it’ll happen. 

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