We live in a modern world where we expect our lives to be comfortable. But, sometimes we have to put up with a certain amount of discomfort in one area in order to improve things in another. You can’t always have the good without the bad. So, if you’ve been instructed to wear a CPAP device to improve your sleep quality, you may understand that you really do need to wear it, but you are having a hard time feeling comfortable when wearing it.
Here are some common reasons for discomfort and some suggestions on how to make life with your CPAP machine more pleasant.
1. Mask Not Fitting Perfectly Your CPAP mask should be snug and feel comfortable just like a nice brand-new pair of socks feel on your feet. If your mask is not fitting well, try adjusting the headgear. Or, you may need a mask allowing for a more versatile fit. If your mask is old, it may be a little loose due to age – if so, it’s time to replace the headgear.
2. Soreness When you begin your CPAP therapy, you may experience some soreness. But, just as with a new pair of shoes, your CPAP device needs to be broken in. If you still can’t get comfortable after giving your machine a breaking-in period, it may be that you need a smaller or larger mask. If you are getting soreness on the bridge of your nose, try a nasal pad to create a comfortable barrier between the bridge and your mask.
3. Leaks Leaks can cause skin chafing and rashes where the moist mask rubs against your skin. A leak can often be cured by replacing the mask cushion. There are also wonderful full face, nasal pillows and nasal pillow liners that you can try. With one of these between your mask and your skin, you will go aah! And, feel immediate relief.
4. Claustrophobia If your mask makes you feel like you are trapped inside it, there are things you can do. For instance, ask your sleep therapist for some breathing exercises designed to make wearing a mask seem more natural. You may be less claustrophobic with a less cumbersome mask or a mask with nasal pillows that frees up most of your face.
5. Facial Hair You thought having a beard was cool until you began CPAP treatment, didn’t you? And, even a five-o-clock shadow can cause irritation. However, you don’t need to take the drastic step of becoming clean-shaven - you just need a mask designed to accommodate your beard.
6. Stomach and Side Sleepers Many people can’t drop off unless they’re on their stomachs or curled up in a fetal position. Stomach and side sleepers tend to move around a lot in their sleep which may cause their masks to slip off. If this is you, you need a mask that will stay on your face no matter how much you toss and turn.
7. Dry Mouth If you look like a pop star singing high notes while you sleep, you are probably a mouth breather, and are likely to get a dry mouth that can lead to throat irritation. If so, and you are using just a nasal pillow mask, you may need to switch to a full face mask. A chinstrap designed to help keep your mouth closed during the night can also help.
8. Sinus Infection A sinus infection is not fun, and a dirty CPAP machine full of hidden germs can make it worse. Keep your machine clean with a special CPAP cleaning device that uses activated oxygen molecules to destroy germs. CPAP cleaning wipes can also be used to keep your mask clean.
Make Your CPAP Machine Your Buddy Even though you may dislike your CPAP machine at first, you must learn to use it if you want to eliminate the systems of obstructive sleep apnea. So, pay attention to making your CPAP machine as comfortable as possible so that it becomes your friend. Valley Sleep Center’s therapists will make sure that you have a mask that fits you properly. And, Valley Sleep Therapy carries a wide range of CPAP equipment and accessories all designed to give you the most comfortable sleep possible. So talk to us if you need a CPAP machine or are having problems getting comfortable with the one you’ve got.