5 Tips for CPAP Success
By Brad Gillman
Jun 7, 2018
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
For some, the key to a good night’s sleep might have to be helped by a CPAP machine. Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea, where a person’s breathing is obstructed or limited during sleep. The result is the body never fully rests and can cause problems to organs if left untreated.
CPAP machines create air pressure into the person’s airways while they sleep, either by a nose or face mask. The flow of air will help the person limit the obstruction and be able to rest sufficiently. David Moon, a respiratory therapist from Intermountain Healthcare, spoke to KUTV’s Fresh Living crew about how to achieve success using the contraption while you sleep.
The interview was part of KUTV’s Ask the Expert series in May where Intermountain caregivers talked about sleep health and viewers could send questions to be experts either by phone or social media throughout the day.
It’s easy to take the mask off in the morning, place it away and forget about it. But simple cleaning is the most important issue for CPAP users according to Moon.
“First thing in the morning, when you wake up and you’re wearing you CPAP mask, you have to take the cushion off of your mask and wash that,” Moon said.
You can wash the cushion with water and either baby shampoo or a mild detergent. Moon said that this helps with sleep and oral hygiene as well.
You can also help protect you and the mask by washing your face before bedtime to remove oils and makeup.
Parts of the machine such as the tubes should be rinsed out with the same process every month.
If you or a loved one hears air blowing than that could mean you do not have a good seal between the mask and you.
“Generally if your mask is leaking then that means you need a new cushion. Most insurances will buy you a new one every month,” said Moon.
Other areas to watch for is if you wake up with a dry mouth, or find your humidifier chamber is empty, then that can cause issues as well.
Moon said that if you notice in the morning that you have red spots around the bridge of your nose, then the mask is not sitting well.
The big mistake can come if someone hears a leak and then tightens the straps to make a better seal.
“But what they are doing is actually causing too much pressure,” said Moon.
A good reminder is that the user should be able to slid two fingers under the strap and your skin. Also, the excess oil on your skin could contribute the tender spots as well.
This step is simple – if you have a CPAP machine, use it.
“It’s a very expensive item to sit on your nightstand next to your bed,” said Moon.
If you are new to a CPAP then practice using it while watching TV to get used to the device on your face. You can also ease into the process by wearing the mask for a few hours of sleep, then build over a few days to get used to the entire night.
The ultimate goal of a CPAP is to getting you the much needed rest your body needs. The concept of owning your sleep is to make it a priority. Make sure you see a sleep professional annually and utilize the CPAP machine.
Your body will start to recover if you can get a handle on sleep.For more interviews and information about sleep health, visit KUTV’s Ask the Expert website.