CPAP Therapy Treatment and Tips

Using a CPAP machine but still experiencing apneas?


Treating your sleep apnea can help you to sleep properly so you feel energised in the morning. 

After starting CPAP therapy you should start to notice improvements to how you feel. But, if you’re still having apneas this article explains what to expect and what to do if you’re still concerned

You've likely heard CPAP machines referred to as the 'gold standard' in treatment for sleep apnea.1

Research shows that regular CPAP use is particularly successful for people who have moderate to severe sleep apnea.1

While everyone using CPAP has a different experience, you may notice an improvement the day after your first sleep with the mask and machine.2

But what happens if you're using a CPAP machine on a nightly basis, but you’re still experiencing apneas?

“I'm using my CPAP machine every night but am still experiencing apneas. How do I know if my treatment is working?”

You may have noticed that your CPAP machine displays how many apneas and hypopneas you're experiencing per hour. This is commonly referred to as the ‘Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) reading’.

It's reasonable to assume that in order for your treatment to be effective, your AHI should display a reading of zero.

But on the contrary, an AHI reading of zero is very unusual. Although CPAP is designed to reduce your AHI, it may not completely eliminate apneas.

You should also keep in mind that your AHI is a measure of how many apneas and hypopneas you experience each hour – meaning if you were to take a half-hour nap with an AHI of 4, you've actually only experienced 2 apneas.

Effective treatment of sleep apnea can help you to sleep properly and feel like your best self the next morning.

Why am I still having apneas?

Recording any apnea experiences of any kind might seem puzzling, however a small number of events (for example 5 apnea events or fewer per hour) is considered normal.3

A reduction in apneas compared to your pre-treatment level, should improve the quality of your sleep and your daytime alertness.

If you're wondering whether your AHI reading is normal for you and how much your sleeping disorder has improved since treating your sleep apnea with a CPAP machine, discuss this with your ResMed sleep coach or your doctor.

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Are there other factors to indicate how well my CPAP therapy is working?

While an AHI reading will show you how your apneas have decreased by using CPAP treatment, it's just one of the many factors to take into consideration when evaluating your CPAP machine.

Are you feeling less fatigued during the day? 

Two of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are fatigue and sleepiness, but with regular use of a CPAP machine you may have noticed these symptoms start to clear up.4

It can take time to adjust to treatment

If you've just started on your journey of sleep apnea treatment, it may take some time to adjust to treatment.

You should also take into consideration that when you're adjusting to sleeping with your CPAP machine, it's common to experience some initial issues such as waking up to reposition your mask, as well as generally getting familiar with your new equipment.

If you still feel as though your treatment isn't quite right, it's time to book in for a check-up to ensure you're using the most suitable device and treatment option available.

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Cao MT et al. Expert Rev Respir Med. 2017 Apr;11(4):259-272.

3 accessed 8 July 2019.

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