Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment if you have moderate to severe OSA.
If you have mild OSA, CPAP is only recommended if your symptoms affect your quality of life or other treatment options have not worked.
CPAP is a simple machine that pumps air through a mask you wear at night. It’s designed to hold your airway open while you’re asleep. It sends air at pressure into your upper airway to stop it collapsing or narrowing. Your sleep clinic or the machine itself will set the pressure for you.
Before you leave the clinic with your cpap machine, it’s really important to get clear instructions on how to fit the mask, use the machine and keep the equipment clean. It’s vital that you use the CPAP properly or the treatment won’t be effective.
Getting used to CPAP
Some people wake up the first morning after CPAP and feel much better immediately, while others find it takes a few nights. Some people have vivid dreams for the first few nights, which usually stop once their body gets used to a good night’s sleep.
CPAP can feel a bit odd to start with and you may be tempted to stop using it. But people who persevere usually soon get used to it and their symptoms improve significantly – within a week of using it consistently.
When we asked people to tell us about their experience, about a third said it had taken over six months to get used to it. But almost everyone said it was the best treatment for them.
Research indicates that the longer you use it each night – up to seven hours – buy cpap machine the more benefit you get. Try to use it every night, especially at the beginning of the night, when we tend to sleep most deeply.
If you’re having problems, ask your sleep clinic for help. You should have follow-up appointments with your sleep clinic for as long as you need.
The machine pumps air under pressure through a mask and makes a low noise that you and your partner will need to get used to.
The machine uses ordinary room air and is powered from an ordinary power supply. It should last about seven years.
The air pressure
You will not be able to adjust the air pressure once the clinic has set it. Some machines have a ramp feature that may help you to get used to the pressure. The machine starts at a lower pressure and increases to your pre-set pressure over the first few minutes.
It’s normal to feel it’s harder to breathe out. Once you’re asleep, your body will get used to this, but it may take time.
CPAP masks come in many shapes and sizes. Many sleep clinics give you a mask that fits over your nose. For it to work, you need to keep your mouth closed while sleeping.
You might need a mask that fits over your nose and mouth if you breathe through your mouth when you sleep, if you have nasal blockage or if you still snore with a nasal mask.
There are also masks that cover your whole face. At the other end of the spectrum, there are nasal pillows, which fit against your nostrils.
Your clinic should be able to help you find the best mask for you.