CPAP stands for continuous positive air pressure. There are many different types of machines and masks, and their job is to deliver continuous airflow into the lungs, keeping the airway open and dramatically reducing or stopping sleep apnoea. From nasal pillows which sit just inside the nose, to full-face masks, we’ll help you find a solution that suits your lifestyle.
Why Do I Need a CPAP Machine?
If you snore or stop breathing during sleep, you may find a CPAP machine will help you find the good night’s rest you’ve been searching for. You will use the machine to regulate your airways and breathing during the night, to allow your body to do what it needs to during rest – restore and rejuvenate.
How Does CPAP Work?
There are two primary parts to a CPAP Machine – the machine itself, and the mask you wear. This is in addition to the humidifier, and the hose that connects them together.
The machine works to pressurise the room’s air and pass it over a humidifier. This air then travels through the hose to the mask you wear. The pressurised air means:
- Your airways stay open
- Your breath stays regular
- Your body remains relaxed and sleeping deeply
There are two main types of CPAP machines – fixed pressure, and automatic pressure.
Fixed pressure – after you’ve undergone an initial test, you will be given a therapy pressure. This pressure is used as a fixed measure by your machine, throughout the night. These machines are cheaper, but you’ll need regular tests to ensure your therapy pressure is still accurate.
Automatic pressure – this type of machine monitors your breath and adjusts the pressure automatically during sleep. They cost more but may be worth the additional expense for the convenience and assurance your machine is adapting to your needs.
There are different types of masks available and the correct one for you will depend on your therapy needs and your lifestyle.
Nasal masks sit over your nose and are smaller, less intrusive than a full face, and are conducive to side- and back-sleepers.
Full face masks sit over your nose and mouth and are usually used by people who need to breathe through their mouth for a variety of reasons. These are best used if you sleep on your back.
Pillows are minimal masks that consist of prongs that sit just inside your nostrils and are suitable for side- and back-sleeping.
The main treatment for breathing issues during sleep is CPAP machines and therapy. If for some reason, this is not a suitable option for you there are alternatives available.
If you breathe through your mouth and a CPAP machine isn’t for you (even with a humidifier to moisten the air) you might consider these alternatives.
- clear up nasal congestion before you go to bed, with an antihistamine, nasal decongestant, or saline wash
- raise your head by using a higher pillow
- consider surgery – speak with your doctor if this is relevant
These fixtures sit inside your mouth and their job is to prevent your tongue and upper mouth tissues from blocking your airways. They hold your jaw and tongue in place and tend to be less cumbersome than CPAP masks. They are custom-designed to fit your face and a dentist will usually be involved.
Sometimes sleep apnoea is caused by lifestyle characteristics. If you’re a smoker or could lose some weight, consider addressing these things to see whether you might be able to organically make improvements to your sleep quality.
You could also consider:
- Exercising more
- Lowering your alcohol intake
- Sleeping on your side
There are many possible reasons your anatomy could be affecting your airways and therefore your breathing, and your sleep quality.
Depending on your specific situation, surgery may be an option to help alleviate your sleep challenges.