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66: 5 ways a CPAP mask is like an over-the-shoulder boulder holder

cpap Jul 08, 2023

Getting used to a CPAP mask will take some time and patience.  In the beginning, it is literally a foreign object that you wear on your face while you sleep!  The process of getting used to a mask makes it familiar instead of foreign.  It needs to be familiar so your brain can sleep peacefully.  So it’s important to frame your expectations so you can be as comfortable and successful as possible.  The whole point is to fix your breathing while you sleep.  This is important stuff, and worth the investment of your time and energy.  

Here are some tips to help you get used to a CPAP mask:

Get support.  I’m putting this first for a reason.  Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder and I want you to be fully treated so you can get all the benefits of normal breathing and healthy sleep.  If you are struggling AT ALL to get used to your CPAP mask, don't hesitate to seek support from your healthcare provider, a sleep therapist, or Super Sleep MD.  There may be a simple fix for a problem you’re having.  Sometimes reassurance and encouragement make all the difference.  Sometimes knowing your options helps you to move on to a better choice of mask.  Sometimes a little education about the consequences of untreated sleep apnea helps renew your motivation.  Reach out and get the help you need so you can get the sleep you deserve!

If you’re anxious, start slowly.  Begin by wearing the CPAP mask for short periods of time during the day.  Disconnect the tubing at first, and breathe slowly and deeply.  Practicing while you are awake takes the pressure to sleep out of the equation! The goal is to get used to the feel of the mask on your face.  Start out with 5- or 10-minute practice sessions, then increase to 30 minutes as you make progress.  When you are comfortable with that, try connecting the tubing and adding the airflow.  

Be consistent.  Put your mask on nightly.  Yep, every night.  Wear it for as long as you can, then take it off.  It’s okay to take it off early.  This is a situation where practicing is much better than perfection.  Over time, you will be able to keep it on longer and longer.  

Take time to make adjustments to the headgear.  Proper fit of the CPAP mask is crucial for comfort.  Use a mirror or get help from someone to make sure the mask is properly adjusted.  It should fit snugly on your face but not too tight, and should not cause any pain or discomfort.  Pro tip:  making adjustments while lying down can help eliminate air leaks.  

Use the ramp feature.  Most CPAP machines have a "ramp" feature that allows you to start with a lower pressure setting.  The pressure will gradually increase over 20-45 minutes. This can help you get used to the sensation of airflow and pressure from the CPAP machine while you go to sleep.

Support your sleep with good habits.  What helps you feel more relaxed in the evening?  Do those things!  This helps your mind and your body wind down in preparation for sleep.  Go to sleep when you feel sleepy.  Wake up at the same time each morning and get bright light exposure (preferably sunlight).  Step up your exercise during the day to sleep more deeply.  Reassure yourself that you are taking steps toward healthy sleep, and CPAP is just one part of that process.  Being consistent about putting on your CPAP treatment every night makes it easier to adjust to.  

Stay patient and persistent- your health is worth it!   It may take time to fully adjust to wearing a CPAP mask, and it's normal to experience some discomfort or resistance initially. Stay patient and persistent, and don't give up. Remember that the benefits of using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea can greatly outweigh the temporary discomfort of wearing the mask.

Remember that consistently treating your sleep apnea can greatly improve your sleep quality and overall health. 


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