Getting Comfy: A Nightime CPAP Routine for a Knock-out Sleep

Getting Comfy: A Nightime CPAP Routine for a Knock-out Sleep

Read time: 4 minutes

    What’s inside:
    • What the heck is sleep hygiene?
    • Why a bedtime routine is important
    • How your sleep is impacted by light
    • Getting a better CPAP mask fit
    • How your sleep position makes all the difference


    Sleep is great.

    REM, Light Sleep, Deep Sleep… we need ‘em all.

    But that is rarely easy when sleep apnea is part of the equation. All is not lost though. With a few insights on sleep hygiene, proper CPAP mask fitting and optimal sleep positions, a restful night isn’t just a dream – it’s an attainable reality.


    So, what the heck is sleep hygiene?

    Sleep hygiene refers to the gambit of habits and practices that help you to sleep well on a regular basis. So, here’s a few tips to get you in the mood…


    Routine: Why is a bedtime routine important?

    Keeping to the same bedtime throughout the week, including weekends, can help your body know what’s coming next. Aging naturally brings with it changing sleep patterns too, so all the more important to get into good habits now.

    Surprises create stress, although they ain’t all bad. Birthday surprises, for example, are usually a good type of stress.

    However, pushing your body all day to work hard without making it clear when the next break is causes a bad kind of stress.

    Try keeping to within one-hour windows for both lights-out and wakeup. So long as the bit in-between is long enough to get decent sleep, your body will thank you for the heads-up.


    Environment: How is sleep impacted by light?

    There’s a basic rule when it comes to bedroom light… Kill it!

    If you can’t see your hand in front of your face, you are on the right track.

    Blackout curtains or blinds can help prevent daylight getting in.

    TVs, phones and all that… leave it out at least and hour before you intend to get your head down. Any light, and it doesn’t have to be blue light from devices, any light can interfere with your circadian sleep rhythm – resulting in fragmented sleep.

    So, put the TV somewhere else in your home and leave your phones & tablets out of it too.

    Need to charge your devices overnight?

    How about getting a charging station so all of your household can leave their devices in a neutral room while sleep does its magic?


    CPAP Mask Comfort: Why is my CPAP mask not fitting properly?


    An ill-fitting mask can lead to air leaks, skin irritation, or even an unwelcome return of sleep apnea symptoms. To ensure a snug fit, try these:

    • Get the basics right: Size and Style:
      • Masks come in various shapes and sizes, and one size does not fit all. Whether it's a full-face mask, nasal mask, or nasal pillow, it's worth the effort to find the one that best suits your face structure.
    • Take it lying down:
      • How a mask fits when you are sitting-up may not be the same when you are horizontal. Get comfy in bed and then refine the fit.
    • Follow the maker’s fitting guide:
      • Some mask makers tell you to get the mask into position before pulling the fitting straps over your head. Others say the exact opposite. Which way to fit your CPAP mask it correct?... check the maker’s user-guide or online help.
    • Give it time:
      • It is normal for a new CPAP mask to feel unfamiliar at first. Give yourself some time to get used to it. Many people speed-up this familiarity by wearing it during the day. I’m not suggesting your nip down to your local store with it on, but watching TV while relaxing in your favourite chair is a pretty decent way to go.
    • Fine-tune as you go along:
      • Your straps should be a adjusted to a comfy fit – not too tight and not too loose. A mask that is welded to your face can be just as problematic as a loose one.
    • Keep it clean:
      • Washing as per the maker’s guidelines is important. Sweat and bacteria from your night before can build-up on masks and straps. Rosacea is a real problem for CPAP mask wearers, so don’t give it any excuses to take hold.
    • Get help:
      • If you can’t seem to get the thing to fit properly, ask for help. Your sleep clinic or prescribing doctor will be able to check you are fitting it correctly and offer qualified advice on how to get a better experience.

    Sleep Positions: Getting it right for you

    Side-sleeping man wearing a sleep apnea mask.

    The position in which you sleep can dramatically impact the quality of your rest, especially when dealing with sleep apnea. Here's how common positions weigh in:

    • Back Sleeping:
      • Although many find solace in this classic posture, it's less than ideal for sleep apnea sufferers. Gravity can cause the tongue and soft tissues to collapse, narrowing the airway – worsening the exact symptoms you are trying to avoid.
      • If sleeping on your back really is the best way for you, try an oral appliance to see if that does enough to keep the airway open. If the collapse is further back, you may find changing positions the only way forward.
    • Side Sleeping:
      • Often heralded as the best position for sleep apnea, side sleeping can naturally reduce airway obstruction. Some people find a wedge pillow… or even just a squashed feather one, can help provide enough support to maintain this position throughout the night.
    • Stomach Sleeping:
      • While not as common with CPAP users, due to the fact you have a mask strapped to your face, this position can help reduce sleep apnea episodes. However, it's not without its drawbacks such as potential neck strain or even rosacea issues. If you find stomach sleeping possible and comfy, getting decent pillow support for head, neck and body could be key.

    Ultimately, embracing good sleep hygiene, securing the right CPAP mask fit, and understanding the interplay between sleep positions and sleep apnea can pave the way to better sleep and a more energetic morning.

    It's about creating a routine that fits you like a glove (or in this case a mask) to achieve the slumber you deserve.

    This setup is uniquely right for you and only you. It may take some time to perfect, but getting those zeds when your own body is trying to suffocate is worth the extra effort.

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