Can a CPAP Mask Help You Sleep Easier?

May 7th 2016

Sleep apnea is a frequent and sometimes serious condition that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. CPAP masks offer a treatment option that has been effective for many users at preventing airway blockages and promoting a better quality of sleep.

Uses

Physicians typically recommend CPAP masks for people with various forms of sleep apnea or infants with underdeveloped lungs. Individuals with breathing problems also benefit from the use of a CPAP mask to deliver air pressure into the lungs. Most people find that, when wearing one, they breathe and sleep easier. Spouses or mates sleeping in the same bed typically notice that the patient is less likely to snore, stop breathing or gasp for breath during sleep when using the masks, improving sleep quality for both parties.

How it Works

CPAP machines have three main parts: a mask with straps that fit over the nose and mouth, a tube that connects the mask to the motor, and a motor that blows the air into the tubes, ultimately delivering it into the mouth and nose. CPAP systems vary in weight, size of tubing and noise level. Some CPAP machines are noisy and can disrupt sleep, whereas others are lightweight and quiet. They may also offer additional features, such as a built-in, heated humidifier.

Patients prescribed a CPAP mask work with a medical health professional to select a machine, choose the settings and discuss concerns or problems with use. In many cases, physicians recommend an overnight sleep study to test out different masks and determine the appropriate settings.

Benefits

Research has shown that many patients have an improved quality of sleep while using a CPAP mask because their airways are open. The machine works to relieve symptoms of sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness, and helps to prevent or decrease high blood pressure. In some cases, patients reported less snoring and fewer disruptions to sleep.

Risks

Reported side effects from using a CPAP mask include excessive dreaming during the first few nights using it, dry nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and abdominal bloating. If the mask fits too tightly, the skin on the face or around the eyes may become irritated. Bothersome side effects can be alleviated using alternative options recommended by a physician, such as switching to a different type of CPAP mask, using a decongestant or nasal spray, or adjusting the mask so air does not leak from the sides.

Conclusion

Continuous positive airway pressure, known widely by the acronym CPAP, uses a hose, mask and nose piece to deliver a steady stream of air into the lungs of a patient. A CPAP mask, which covers the nose and mouth while sleeping, often helps people with obstructive sleep apnea breathe easier and, ultimately, sleep better.

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