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A cartoonish man sleeping normally on his side with a CPAP mask, and the same man flipped onto his other side, woken up in the night with his CPAP hose looped around his neck.

Changing Sleeping Position With My CPAP

I have had mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and used a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for a few years now. Never once have I had the issues I'm having now. Due to more pain and changing sleeping positions with my CPAP, sleep has been a struggle!

About 3 months ago, I found out that I had 4 tears in my left shoulder (not bad enough to require surgery). Along with bursitis, tendonitis, and arthritis; this is all very painful!

Why I needed to change my sleeping position

Now I have always slept on my right side. Up until now, I got along very well sleeping with my CPAP. However, it was causing considerably more pain in my left shoulder. So, my husband and I switch sides of the bed. Thereby allowing me to sleep on my left side.

Because my shoulder wasn't sagging forward, changing positions did alleviate the pain in my left shoulder while I was sleeping. However, it did create problems for using my CPAP machine.

The problem changing positions with CPAP

Now this is very strange and something I never figured would happen. Especially since I'm already a side sleeper, I didn't think changing sides would cause that much of a problem.

In the month that I have been sleeping on my left side – just about every night at some point – I wake up with the CPAP hose wrapped around my neck.

Waking with my CPAP hose wrapped around my neck!

A couple of times it's been quite snug but not tight enough to cause any damage. However, for me, it's very unnerving to wake up in the middle of the night having something wrapped around my neck – especially while still asleep and trying to get it unwound.

Because of my training as a domestic abuse advocate, the risk of strangulation is scary and unnerving. It only takes about 4 pounds of pressure, or the force that it takes to open a can of soda, to cause harm. And the effects of that force on the neck do not necessarily mean immediate danger. It could take years for any problems to start, including death.1

Tangled tight in the tubing

When I slept on my right side, I would string the tubing through the little crevice in our headboard so that all the tubing was actually coming out above my head. I don't know what the difference is but it doesn't work the same sleeping on my left side.

When sleeping on my left side, it seems more likely that I'm getting tangled up tighter in it during the night. The tubing doesn't seem to feed through nor retract the same way. But the crevices on both sides of the headboard are exactly the same.

Changing sleeping positions affect my CPAP hose

If I hadn't been experiencing this for myself, I would never have believed that my sleeping position could make that much of a difference. The ease of using my CPAP machine and hosing were affected by changing positions.

Could CPAP mask differences cause the tangles?

I use nose pillows for my CPAP machine. So the tubing hooks directly in front of my nose and mouth. My husband, who also has mild obstructive sleep apnea, has a full-face mask where the hose hooks at the top of his head. 

He has had no issues with changing the side of the bed, and the tubing wrapping around his neck.

Better sleep after changing positions

Finally, another funny thing is that I seem to be getting much more restful sleep on my left side than I ever did on my right side – even with being woken up to untangle my neck from the hosing.

What is your experience changing sleeping positions with CPAP? Please share in a comment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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