Sleep Apnea Treatment: How to Make It More Comfortable

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. From drowsiness during the day that affects personal and professional lives to chronic health conditions, the risks of sleep apnea cannot be overstated.

Studies Showed1

The most common treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), where a CPAP machine delivers a steady supply of air to the sleeping patient. CPAP therapy is extremely effective, with success rates up to 100% being reported.2 The problem is compliance. 

Why Would Sufferers of Sleep Apnea Stop Treatment?

The answer is typically discomfort. CPAP therapy is a major departure from natural sleep. Patients report a range of issues related to discomfort that discourage consistent, long-term CPAP compliance.

• General Discomfort and Sleep Interference

• Irritated Skin and Chafing 

• Mouth Breathing and Mask Leaks

• Tube Tangles and Condensation

Easy Ways to Make CPAP Therapy More Comfortable

The good news is that there are many easy, low cost and even free ways to make CPAP machine users more comfortable and much more likely to continue therapy.

General Discomfort and Sleep Interference Solutions

Use the CPAP Machine While Relaxing Before Bed

This can not only help new users become accustomed to CPAP machines, but can also help create a routine where the mind and body associate the CPAP machine with bedtime.

Take Advantage of the Ramp Up Feature

Full air pressure may be too distracting to allow the patient to fall asleep—especially if they are new to CPAP therapy. Many machines feature a “ramp up” feature that begins with lower, more subtle pressure levels that build to full strength over time.

Find the Right Type of Mask

There are a variety of CPAP mask types—each has pros and cons for the individual to account for.



• Can deliver high air pressure

• Less interference with vision

• No covering of the mouth

• Many sizes and fits


• More pressure on the bridge of nose

• Mouth breathers need chinstraps

• May not be suitable for allergy sufferers



• The least obstructive

• Minimal face contact

• Great for active sleepers


• Uncomfortable with high pressures

• Can cause nasal dryness

• May not be suitable for allergy sufferers

• Mouth breathers require chinstraps



• Great for mouth breathers

• Great for allergy sufferers

• Great for high pressures


• High degree of face contact

• Obstruction of vision

• Potential leakage

CPAP Pillows

CPAP pillows feature special shapes, materials and fabrics specifically designed for CPAP headgear. This can help reduce neck discomfort and the disruption of airway seals in a variety of sleep positions.

Irritated Skin and Chafing

Nose Gel Pads

Made of super soft gel, nose bridge pads can reduce nose bridge irritation from both nasal masks and full face masks.

Nasal Mask Liners

These pads are typically made of a cotton fabric to mitigate pressure around the entire nose while allowing the skin to breathe.

Full Face Mask Liners

Like nasal mask liners, these are also made of a breathable cotton fabric but extend over the nose bridge and entire mouth.

Cleaning Wipes

Oils, dirt and organic matter can build up on CPAP masks, causing general irritation and even contact dermatitis. While it’s critical to clean masks properly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, cleaning wipes made specifically for CPAP masks are a handy tool for quick and easy cleaning.

Mouth Breathing


With nasal masks and cushions, mouth breathing can severely reduce the effectiveness of CPAP therapy. But even with full face masks, mouth breathing can lead to throat irritation and even air leaks. Chinstraps are available in a variety of sizes to help eliminate breathing through the mouth during sleep.

Tube Tangles and Condensation

Tube Wrap

Breathing tubes can tangle during sleep, breaking the air seal to reduce the effectiveness of treatment and potentially wake the patient. Additionally, if there is too great a difference in temperature between the ambient air and the air in the breathing tubes, condensation can build up and drip back onto the patient. Tube wraps can stop tubes from tangling and provide enough insulation to stop condensation.

With Comfort Comes Compliance

The key to effective CPAP therapy is consistency—it has to become a way of life for the patient. And like all healthy routines and habits, the more pleasant, the easier it is to integrate into one’s lifestyle.