CPAP Therapy Treatment and Tips

How to troubleshoot the 5 common CPAP mask problems


Can’t get to sleep with CPAP? Starting CPAP therapy isn’t always as simple as strapping on your mask and falling into a deep slumber.

The first time you try your CPAP mask, you may worry you’ll never find a comfortable sleep position again. Or worse, you might fear feeling too claustrophobic to keep it on all night.

And this is understandable. Learning how to sleep with your CPAP mask on and adjust to the air pressure can be daunting. If you haven’t quite figured out how to get comfortable with your CPAP therapy, that’s ok. It’s common to face a few challenges along the way.

You may be struggling with the right mask fit. You might find the air pressure doesn’t feel quite right. Or you could simply feel discomfort while wearing your mask.

Here’s the good news: there are lots of ways to make it easier to adjust to your therapy and get quality sleep every night. Get more comfortable with your CPAP therapy with these 5 easy fixes to common mask issues: 


My CPAP mask leaks/doesn’t fit

My CPAP mask’s air pressure is uncomfortable

My CPAP mask is making my nose stuffy (or dry)

My CPAP mask makes me feel claustrophobic

I can’t get used to CPAP


1. My CPAP mask leaks/doesn’t fit

Finding the perfect mask fit is crucial. Having the right CPAP mask for your face shape not only ensures greater comfort but also helps ensure your therapy isn’t compromised. If you can hear or feel air leaking from your mask, this should not be ignored. The loss of air pressure due to a leak in a seal can mean that the treatment is not working effectively, if at all.

Solution: Consult with your doctor

If you feel that there is air leakage or find your pre-therapy symptoms returning, get your doctor to check whether your mask is properly fitting your face to create a seal.

It’s also important to talk to your doctor about how you sleep. Are you a side sleeper? Do you breathe through your mouth? Speak up about your sleep needs. Be your own advocate so you can get the right mask for you.


2. My CPAP mask’s air pressure is uncomfortable

It can be difficult to adapt to having air continuously being blown into your airway. Of course, it won’t feel very natural at first. Some people can also find it difficult to exhale against the pressure.

Solution: Try our AutoRampTM feature

If the air pressure from your machine feels too high while you’re trying to fall asleep, use the ‘ramp mode’. On ResMed's AirSense™ 10 CPAP machines, there is a smart automatic ramp pressure setting. This means the device will begin at a low pressure and won’t ramp up to your prescribed pressure until it detects that you have fallen asleep. 



3. My CPAP mask is making my nose stuffy (or dry)

Experiencing a dry or stuffy nose can happen when exposed to the air from your CPAP mask. Keeping your nose and throat moist is a must during CPAP therapy.

Solution: Use a humidifier

Most CPAP machines now come with a heated humidifier device included or as an optional extra. Being able to customise the right amount of humidity for your body can help keep your throat and mouth less dry for a more comfortable experience.



4. My CPAP mask makes me feel claustrophobic

It can feel a little unsettling when wearing a CPAP mask for the first time. But to be successful with therapy, it is helpful to understand that a lot of practise and patience is needed. The more you get used to the mask, the sooner you’ll have quality sleep. There are several techniques you can try to get more comfortable with your mask.

Solution: Practise wearing the mask before bedtime

Start by wearing your mask as much as you can before bedtime to get used to it. You might be familiar with the concept of ‘breaking in’ when referring to getting used to new shoes. This process can also be applied to CPAP therapy.

Try wearing the headgear and mask while performing tasks such as cleaning, watching TV, or reading. The activity will distract you while you adjust to the feel and weight of the mask.

The next step might be to try the mask with the machine on during a brief daytime nap. Taking the pressure off yourself by taking things slowly may help you feel less anxious about wearing the mask.

Alternative solution: Try another type of CPAP mask

If the size of a full-face CPAP mask is too overwhelming, it might be better to explore a different type of mask, such as a nasal pillow mask. These masks fit directly into the base of your nose with pillow-type cushions that seal around your nostrils. Many people prefer nasal pillow masks  as they are smaller, lighter, and quieter. 



5. I can’t get used to CPAP

We get that CPAP therapy can be frustrating. You might feel fed up with having to put your headgear and mask on every night, but the key to acclimatisation is to be persistent! This will ensure you achieve the best outcome possible and help you awaken your best. We also have  a few guides on how to get used to CPAP!

Solution: Stay positive and stick with it!

When resisting putting your mask on, remind yourself why you are enduring CPAP therapy by focusing on its benefits. It’s important to recognise what you’re getting out of your therapy and how much better you feel each day after a good night’s sleep.

Keep positive and make sure you surround yourself with plenty of support. Now you can have a sleep coach* right at your fingertip with the ResMed myAir™ app . It can help you track your sleep apnea therapy on an AirSense 10™ device and provide you with personalised tips to make therapy more comfortable.

Treating your sleep apnea should be beneficial, improving your energy levels and enabling you to be your best self. Some people will get used to therapy very quickly, but don't worry if it takes you a little longer. This is also normal.

Getting used to your CPAP mask and machine is ultimately about staying positive and being patient. Simply follow our troubleshooting tips to address challenges with your mask, and before you know it, you will be reaping the benefits of CPAP therapy.

If your therapy is still not working for you, reach out to one of our friendly sleep coaches or your doctor for more help.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE. You should speak to your doctor about your symptoms and whether a CPAP device is suitable for you.


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*ResMed Sleep Coaches are sales and customer service representatives who have received training in sleep health. I can give general information about sleep health, sleep disorders and products that may help improve your sleep. However, I am not a qualified healthcare professional and cannot provide medical advice. ResMed recommends you continue to consult your GP or respiratory physician.

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