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Tips for Getting Used to Your New CPAP

Being diagnosed with sleep apnea and being prescribed a CPAP to treat your condition can be very overwhelming. In fact, it can feel very daunting, and you will likely wonder how on earth you will ever get used to sleeping with such a device on your face.

But you can, and most will have few problems once they get used to it. That being said, it may take some trial and error and work to become acclimated. By following the following simple recommendations, you may find that wearing a CPAP is easier than you expected.

Keep a positive attitude when starting your CPAP journey

I know what you are thinking. Amber, really? How will a positive attitude help?

When embarking on any new journey, a negative attitude will NEVER be helpful. If you start this journey thinking how awful it is going to be and that you will never get a good night's sleep again, you will likely not have a positive experience.

Trust me when I say that I know how daunting the task of sleeping with a CPAP can be. But if you have a bad attitude, each and every small issue will become HUGE and you will likely not stick with it.

Remember the health benefits

No one wants to use a CPAP, ever. But it can really be beneficial to you and anyone sleeping with you. Not only will it cut down on your snoring and/or apnea periods, but it can also improve your moods throughout the day, your concentration level, and give you more energy. It can also aid in improving your overall health.1

Choose the right equipment provider

One of the most important decisions surrounding your CPAP and sleep apnea is to choose the best equipment provider for you. After you receive the list from your physician of possible equipment providers, make sure that you check with your insurance to make sure they are in-network.

In some places, you may only have one option of places to get your equipment locally. If that is the case, it is still important to verify with your insurance that they are in-network. Because CPAPs are NOT cheap, and you don’t want to get stuck footing the entire bill.

One important question that you should ask once you have chosen a provider is if they allow equipment rentals or if you are required to purchase your CPAP. Renting equipment can be a more financially pleasing option if it is available.

Choose the best CPAP mask for YOU

Selecting the best mask for you is quite possibly the MOST IMPORTANT part of using your CPAP. There are lots of different options out there. From full-face masks to something called nasal pillows that just sit under your nose.

The company you chose to get your equipment from will be the ones to help fit you with your mask. When choosing your mask they will take into account your facial anatomy, including the shape of your nose and if you are able to easily breathe through your nose.

How do you breathe while sleeping?

For both men and women, you will want to think about how you breathe while sleeping. Meaning are you a mouth breather or do you breathe through your nose while sleeping? Or if you have had any nasal surgery or have a deviated septum. During your sleep study, they will help you try out different masks in order to find the best pressures for you so they can help to guide you in the right direction for when you choose your mask. The presence of facial hair in men will also want to be taken into consideration when choosing a mask.

Do you struggle with claustrophobia?

For most, it is best to choose the smallest mask that you can tolerate. This can decrease the feeling of claustrophobia that some feel when wearing their CPAP as well as prevent any air leaks and pressure on your face.

Masks are not one-size-fits-all

It is important to remember that CPAP masks are very similar to shoes because they are not one-size-fits-all. There will be an adjustment period. Much like shoes, you may love your mask when you try it on and then find it to be very uncomfortable once you start using it. If this happens, make sure to contact your equipment provider and find out if it can be returned or exchanged.

Practice wearing your CPAP before bed

Once you get your CPAP home, there will be an adjustment period. Most people aren’t able to put it on and use it correctly and comfortably the very first time they use it.

The first few times you use your CPAP, you may find it to be slightly uncomfortable. Some people may even deal with insomnia the first few times they use it at night if they haven’t practiced with it before bedtime. But this usually doesn’t last very long and can be prevented by practicing using it before you go to bed.

Once you set your machine up, try wearing your mask for short periods while reading or watching TV.

Ease into wearing your mask

It is suggested that you ease into wearing the mask. If you are claustrophobic at all, you may want to ease into wearing the mask even slower by simply holding the mask up to your face without the machine on. Once you feel comfortable with that, try doing so and turning the machine on. Eventually easing yourself into wearing the mask for short times with the machine on until you can wear it, slowly extending the time you wear it. Until you feel like you can wear it at night.

Remember that this is an adjustment, and you may not feel comfortable right away. It can be uncomfortable to have the mask on and to be breathing against the pressure of the machine. Just try and take slow, deep breaths and distract yourself with another task, so you don’t focus on that. Above all, give yourself some grace and just keep working on it until you are able to wear it comfortably.

If you are having trouble with your mask or machine, make sure to contact your physician's office or the equipment provider. They are a wealth of information and are there to help you!

Do you have any tips to share with new CPAP users? Drop them in the comments below!

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