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  • Barbara Hoefener NP

CPAP for Sleep Apnea. *7 things to know for a CPAP user to breath throughout the night.*

If you are new to getting a CPAP to help you breath throughout the night, give this a read.

Written by Barbara Hoefener, Nurse Practitioner, - 9/2023

CPAP= continuous positive (mild) airway pressure to keep your airways open while you sleep.

CPAP can restore your normal sleep patterns and increase your total sleep time as well as feel rested during the day.

1. **When you are NEW to this - you will LIKELY HATE it at first, this is OK**

Think of being a scuba diver, if you get all the equipment then jump in the ocean what is the chance you are going to have a smooth attempt the 1st time, especially the first 10 minutes.

2. Get used to wearing the mask.

Do not start wearing your CPAP at night. Start with learning how it breaths for you and what it feels like while sitting and watching tv, taking breaks when you need to. You also learn the buttons with this.

GOAL: is to sleep with CPAP all night, every night. It takes time to get here.

3. Masks.

There are MANY Many choices in face masks, you may need to try 5 of them, just like you likely need to try different types of clothes or different classes of medicines to find your fit.

**Some mask providers/ insurance allows a "trial period" in the first 30 days.

4. Dry mouth - Humidifier settings

Learn how to change your temperature and humification settings so you don't have a "dry mouth" feel. You cannot break or mess up your machine, you can touch it. **Blow your nose prior to use, and/or add Flonase to daily routine.**

5. Insomnia - at first sleep will struggle. Over time as you get used to the machine, your sleep will improve especially with sleep maintenance insomnia.

6. Most manufactures offer patient websites - you can get free coaching, access to your own data, and learning resources to learn all kinds of sleep related things.

7. Claustrophobia =

Do you actually feel anxious-PTSD/ smothered - if so you have to go much slower with introducing the mask.


Do you feel uncomfortable b/c it is hard to breath in or breath out? This is typically a pressure setting that needs to change.


Gastric Inflation = swallowing air. You are more gassy, bloating, belching. The solution is to maximize the pressure release valve (all machines have this= "flex" or "EPR"). You want the machine will drop the most pressure with exhalation. If this does not work, switch to a bi-pap and this will fix it.

*Reference & Summary from: NACE - "Secrets to CPAP success." Anne Cartwright, PA who works sleep medicine.


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