a clock made out of CPAP machine tubing

How Long Does It Take to Get Used to CPAP?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea. While CPAP can be very effective, some people find them hard to get used to. It can take time to get used to, and the experience can be different for everyone.1

A CPAP machine gently pushes a stream of air through a mask to keep your airway open while you sleep. This reduces the breathing pauses caused by sleep apnea. This helps people stop snoring, making choking noises, or waking up from lack of oxygen.1

In our 2020 Sleep Disorders In America survey, we explored the role of CPAP in people living with sleep apnea. More than 950 people with sleep apnea completed the survey, providing insight into their experience with CPAP. Following the survey, we turned to community members on our Facebook page and asked them to also share details about their CPAP experience.

How many people use a CPAP machine?

According to our survey, many people with sleep apnea have experience with a CPAP machine. Results show that 67 percent of respondents currently use a CPAP machine, while 22 percent have used one in the past.

While the majority of respondents use or have used CPAP, our survey found that some people have had difficulty following recommendations or starting with a CPAP machine.

Experts recommend people use their CPAP machine every night. However, about 20 percent of respondents said they do not use their breathing machine or device every night. Plus, only 61 percent of respondents started treatment with medicine or a device like a CPAP machine within a month of their sleep apnea diagnosis.

How do people adjust to a CPAP?

Everyone’s experience with CPAP machines is different. We asked followers of our Facebook page to tell us: “How long did it take you to get used to sleeping with a CPAP?” More than 50 people shared their experiences with CPAP machines.

Many people had different answers. Some said that they adjusted immediately or only in a few days. Others had more trouble, and it took several months. For a few users, they were never able to get used to it. However, many had positive things to say after they got used to their CPAP:

“Two years later, I can't sleep without it.”

“Not sure I will ever like using a CPAP, but it puts me to sleep. Love the results of recuperative sleep.”

“I actually had to attend a group support class to alleviate my fears. Now I absolutely love my CPAP!”

Tips for using a CPAP machine

Finding the right mask

Certain tips may make using your CPAP machine easier. It may help to make sure the mask is adjusted properly. Even small changes can make a difference in comfort. You can also consider changing your mask style. Some people prefer the full mask, while others may like the nasal pillows style.2

Several community members also shared their views on masks:

“Found out I could NOT wear a full mask...switched to and adjusted to nose pillow within a week.”

“Maybe you should try a different mask. I tried 3 or 4 before it was comfortable.”

Getting acclimated and making adjustments

To get used to your CPAP, it may help to first use it for short bursts during the day. This may make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try using a device with a humidifier if you have a dry mouth, throat, or nose. If you find your CPAP causes congestion, you can try using a nasal spray.2

Getting used to your CPAP machine may be difficult. However, it is worth it for a night of safe and restful sleep, as members of our Facebook community pointed out:

“Be determined to make it work. It will save your life.”

“About 2 to 3 weeks to get used to the CPAP. I feel much more rested now.”

The 2020 Sleep Disorders In America Survey survey was conducted online from March to July 2020. Of the 2,198 people who completed the survey, 968 had experienced sleep apnea.

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