two people with sleep apnea sleeping, a woman sleeping on her back with a full face CPAP mask and a man sleeping on his stomach wearing a nasal pillow CPAP mask

Tips for Choosing the Right CPAP Mask

When I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, I had to go to a medical supply store to pick up my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and try out masks to see what one I liked the best.

There was one flaw with the selection process that I did not take into consideration. I was sitting in a chair trying on different masks to see which was the most comfortable, but honestly, they all felt pretty good. They are designed for comfort so that wasn’t the issue.

I didn’t think about how I slept and the way the mask would affect that. I wish they would have had a bed or place to lie down in my sleep position to test the mask out.

Nasal pillow mask for stomach and side sleepers

I am a stomach sleeper and luckily, I did choose the mask I felt worked best for that. It is a mask that has nasal pillows, which can work best for people with facial hair and keep a seal. I personally think this is the best mask for stomach and side sleepers, but not so great for people who sleep on their backs.

The reason for this is that the nasal pillow design does not have the best strap support around your head to keep a seal when laying on your back. The hose needs to be properly positioned so it is not pulling on the mask or it will become uncomfortable and can lose the seal. For this reason, this type of mask works best for side and stomach sleepers. You can keep the mask resting on your pillow which takes all the stress off your face.

Full-face mask for back sleepers

If you sleep on your back, I would recommend the full-face mask because I believe it gives better support when the hose is pulling on the mask as it is not resting on the pillow. I don’t sleep on my back so I am not as certain how this would work for you personally, but when I am laying on my back, this is not a comfortable mask to wear for the reasons I have stated.

What about claustrophobia?

The last factor that a lot of us may not think about is thinking about those people that have claustrophobia. This makes it really hard to find a good mask and is a big reason many people choose not to use a CPAP. I don’t think there are any good masks for most people with claustrophobia.

If you an inventor, and even if you aren’t, this is a good project to work on if you want to make some money. The only thing I can think of would be to talk with your doctor about maybe getting some medicine to help with the anxiety you experience. I believe the benefit of the CPAP outweighs adding an anxiety medication or sleep medicine to help you sleep.

Still having trouble? Ask for help

I hope this helps with choosing a mask that helps you or gives you an idea of how to better treat your sleep apnea. I always encourage using a CPAP because it is likely the best thing for you and to minimize your risk of sleep apnea complications.

If you have concerns about your mask or equipment, talk to your physician and see if you can get some help to maximize the chance of a positive CPAP experience.

Have you tried many masks or just one? What has your experience been? Tell us and share your story below.

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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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