If you’ve been treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for obstructive sleep apnea, you may be wondering before you start treatment: How can I get used to this? Getting used to using the CPAP machine may take a little effort, but by following some simple advice, you may find it easier than you expect to get started. Let us understand how to use CPAP.
Start using CPAP with a positive attitude
First, approach the prospect of using CPAP therapy with an open mind and a positive attitude. If you start off thinking that this horrible device is disrupting your sleep, both inconvenient and a hindrance, you’ll find that your experience quickly deteriorates. Every minor setback will serve as additional evidence that justifies your eventual dismissal from therapy.
But if you start with this attitude, despite the initial obstacles you may encounter, you will be able to make adjustments and eventually the device will help you – sleep better, improve your focus, mood and energy, And help your overall health – you’ll be more successful and rewarded for your efforts.
Select equipment supplier
One of the most important early decisions in starting CPAP therapy is choosing a provider. Your sleep doctor may provide you with a list of companies and, in some cases, equipment from the doctor’s office.
These durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers will help you with the treatments your sleep doctor prescribes. Although most people are treated with CPAP, you can also opt for a prescription machine that offers a bi-level (or BiPAP or VPAP) or a more complex setup such as ASV.
These suppliers are businesses, so make sure they provide you with good customer service. A key initial role of the equipment provider is to equip you with your first CPAP mask.
Choose your first CPAP mask and use it correctly
Choosing a CPAP mask is a very important step in starting treatment, and overall success or failure depends on the decision. It is best to choose a mask that suits your individual needs. You need to consider the anatomy of your face, including the shape of your nose and how easy it is to breathe through it.
The presence of male facial hair influences selection. You also need to consider whether you may be breathing through your mouth, especially when sleeping at night, because if not resolved, it can sometimes lead to leaks and sometimes require other treatments (such as septoplasty or allergy medication). This can also be an important factor if you are claustrophobic.
In general, it’s best to choose the smallest mask you can tolerate (such as a nasal pillow or a triangular external nasal mask). This will reduce surface area and reduce air leaks and pressure marks on your face.
A mask is like a pair of shoes: one size doesn’t fit all, and you should choose one based on personal preference. If possible, wear it properly, or even try on the mask at the store; if it doesn’t work, try switching it to a replacement option within the first month.
Practice before using CPAP at night
Once you pick up your equipment and take things home, you may want to practice CPAP first to help yourself get used to it.
It may be uncomfortable to use CPAP for the first time, and some people have insomnia after wearing it at night and cannot fall asleep right away. This can be improved with some practice before using it on the first night. Install the machine in another part of the house where you can feel comfortable, perhaps in the living room.
First, let yourself relax into the mask itself. If you’re claustrophobic, you might just want to put the machine on your nose (or nose and mouth) with the machine turned off. If this makes you anxious, try breathing slowly and deeply.
If necessary, simply pull the mask back. Try gradually extending the amount of time you put it on your face, allowing the anxiety to dissipate when necessary. When ready, use the headgear straps that hold the mask in place. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply until you feel comfortable.
Next, you are ready to connect the mask to the tubing and CPAP machine. After all connections are made, turn on the device. Most of the time, the device starts with a lower pressure setting and gradually increases the air pressure the longer you use it (a feature called ramp setting). This allows you to fall asleep easily, but also helps you practice. If the pressure starts to get too high, you can reset it by turning the machine off and on again to reduce the pressure again.
Breathe slowly and deeply with the mask and pressure on. You will find that the air pressure fills your lungs, making it easy for you to breathe. Instead, you may feel a little resistance as you exhale. You will hear air escaping from the exhalation ports on the mask, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape.
This resistance is a little uncomfortable at first, but stick with it: it gets easier. Try to focus on full, even breathing. shut your mouth. If you open your mouth with the mask, you will feel the air rushing out (following the path of least resistance).
Once you’ve established a comfortable breathing pattern, perhaps after a few minutes, focus elsewhere. Do something you enjoy: watch a small TV or movie, read a book or magazine, listen to some music, or surf the internet. Distract and continue using CPAP for 20 to 30 minutes.
This will help you connect CPAP to the things you enjoy doing, and you’ll feel more relaxed when you use it before bed. If you need more time to adjust, please extend this period or try again later. There’s no rush to get started at night, but if you get stuck, you may need to ask for help.
You will find that taking a little time to get used to CPAP while doing light activities will make it easier to use at night. If you get stuck, spend a little more time during the day during the first week, practicing as much as you can.
During the first week or two, sleeping 20 minutes to an hour later than usual can also help, so you can fall asleep faster while wearing a mask.
Most people will find that the initial acclimatization to using it eases after a few days and nights. Although eventually it may vary from a few days to a few weeks, hopefully you will start to experience the therapeutic benefits you want.
Get help if you’re having trouble with CPAP early on
It is important to seek help early if you get stuck. Prompt intervention to correct early problems will ensure long-term success of treatment.
If you are having trouble, please contact your equipment provider or sleep physician during the initial adjustment. These providers can also monitor your usage remotely so that you can schedule intervention if you have a problem. Pressure settings can also be adjusted remotely for greater comfort.
With early support, careful mask selection, and some practice, you can easily get used to CPAP for your sleep apnea. You’re not the first to have a problem, so please say anything that interferes with your use. If you get stuck, speak up and get the help you need to optimize your experience.