Please note that our Brown Deer store has CLOSED as of June 1st, 2018.


For your CPAP needs, please go to:



Common Problems/Solutions

Getting Used to a CPAP Mask

One of the most common problems is acclimating to a CPAP mask, whether it is a nasal mask, a full face mask, or a set of nasal pillows. The more you wear the mask, the more likely you will get used to it.

  • When you first get your CPAP system, try using it during the day or at night before bedtime, while you’re watching TV, reading or listening to music. This allows acclimation while awake and may help the transition of wearing it into the bed for sleep.
  • Some people find it helpful to spend a few minutes just holding the mask up to their face with the pressure on, without wearing the headgear. Once you are able to breathe easily, apply the headgear and continue getting used to the feeling of the mask and exhaling against the pressure.
  • Next, try using your CPAP system while lying in bed with the lights on. Adjust the headgear to fix any leaks, and move around to get used to how the mask feels when you are in your preferred sleeping position.

Realize that it may take a few attempts before you can completely relax and adjust to the new sensations you are experiencing. The key is to give yourself ample time to get used to the mask. On average, most people require about 4 to 6 weeks for this to occur.

Tolerating Positive Air Pressure

CPAP and BiPAP therapies both work by “pushing” air through your throat to prevent obstruction and closure. Getting used to sleeping with CPAP, especially breathing out against the pressure, can take some time. To make therapy more comfortable and falling asleep easier, patients can employ their machine’s ramping feature to slowly increase therapeutic pressure over a desired period of time (usually between 20-45 minutes). Usually over a few weeks you will tolerate the air flow better. Some machines may have a pressure relief option, which reduces the pressure slightly when you exhale.

If the ramp and pressure relief features are enabled and you continue to struggle with your therapy, or if you are experiencing bloating, belching, or tightness in the abdomen or chest, please contact us to discuss options that may be appropriate for you.

Accidental Removal of the CPAP Mask During Sleep

When starting CPAP therapy, many people find that they remove the mask during the night without realizing it. If this happens to you, don’t be overly concerned - getting used to CPAP therapy can be a gradual process.

Cold-like Symptoms

As CPAP air enters our nasal cavity and/or throat, the air dries and cools the areas making the temperature fall. The cool, dry air of treatment can cause a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing for some people, which may last up to a week.

The most effective way to resolve this is by using a heated humidifier with your CPAP unit. A heated humidifier warms a reservoir of water and then applies this warm air to the air flow. This warms and moistens the air flowing into your nose and mouth. Heated humidifiers allow a selection of temperatures so that you can tailor the air temperature to your liking.

Adjusting Your Mask for Proper Fit

Having the wrong size or style CPAP mask is a very common problem. If you suspect an improper fit:

  • Be sure you have adjusted the components of the mask and strap as best as possible to enable a better fit.
  • Fit the mask while you are in your sleeping position, since facial muscles change when you lie down and further relax once you are asleep.
  • Try loosening the headgear and pulling the mask away from your face. When the mask is just making contact, tighten the headgear just enough so that the mask stays on securely. If the headgear is positioned properly, you should be able to fit a couple fingers between your headgear and your cheek.
  • Try adjusting the forehead support if you’re using a nasal or full face mask.

Just like shoes, the CPAP mask style and size that will work best differs from person to person. If you find that you have to tighten your mask to the point of discomfort in order to stop it from leaking, you should contact us immediately.

Difficulty Falling Asleep

When starting to wear a CPAP mask, the “newness” can make it difficult to fall asleep for a select few. If you are experiencing difficulty falling asleep with your CPAP mask, first try the acclimation procedures listed above for wearing the mask and tolerating air pressure. You can also try other strategies, such as:

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, or chocolate at least 4 hours before going to bed.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sexual relations. Television, reading, and other activities contribute to poor sleep hygiene.
  • Keep a consistent schedule for going to bed and waking up.
  • Perform relaxation exercises to assist with sleep.

If you continue to have difficulty falling asleep despite these behavioral techniques, your physician may prescribe a sleep aid for a brief time. Short-term, limited use may let you get used to the CPAP mask and fall asleep early on so that the medication can be slowly decreased later. You may also find it helpful to participate in our CPAP Support Group, where you can pick up other tips and hints from other CPAP patients.

Leaks in Your CPAP Mask

Air leaks in your CPAP mask are generally related to either your mask-fitting or air pressure.

A leaking mask may indicate one of several things:

  • Incorrect adjustment – Make sure your headgear is not over-tightened.
  • Incorrect assembly – If you took your mask apart to clean it, make sure that you reassembled it correctly.
  • Incorrect mask size – If you have never been able to get a good seal with your mask, please contact us. We will be able to check whether or not you have the right mask size.  
  • Incorrect mask type – People with facial hair or narrow nose bridges may find that some masks work better for them than others. Contact us to find the style mask that is best for you.
  • Worn components – Your mask and headgear wear out over time. 

Dry, Stuffy Nose With CPAP Use

Commonly, a dry stuffy nose can develop during, and the morning after, CPAP usage. The main reason this happens in some people is that the CPAP air flow dries out the nasal membranes  or the air stimulates nasal secretion. If secretions are stimulated, the nasal passages and sinuses  can become congested, causing stuffiness.

If you are experiencing a dry, stuffy nose:

  • Be sure your CPAP machine has a humidifier and that it is working properly.
  • Try a heated humidifier if your humidifier is working but you are still suffering from dryness.
  • Try using a saline nasal spray or mist to help moisten nasal passages. These can be applied before going to bed and upon awakening if needed.
  • Contact your physician if nasal dryness or stuffiness persists.

It is often helpful to hear the personal experiences of other CPAP patients when first getting accustomed to therapy. We have a CPAP Support Group that holds regular meetings where members share tips and stories about their CPAP experiences. Please contact us if you would like to be added to our CPAP Support Group members list.

  © 2019 The Sleep Wellness Institute. All rights reserved. Privacy policy | Site map | Contact                                                           Bookmark | Print | Share
  Photos and copy provided by ResMed, Inc. used with permission.