How to Use a CPAP Machine

How to Use a CPAP Machine

Has your doctor recommended that you start using a CPAP machine? Are you unsure about how to use one? 

CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machines make it easier for you to breathe when sleeping and, in turn, can improve your sleep quality. However, if you don’t know how to correctly use a CPAP machine, you may further disrupt your sleep. 

Read this guide to learn how to use a CPAP machine. 

Set Up Your Filters 

Your first task is to set up your CPAP filters. CPAP machines use three main types of filters: reusable foam filters, disposable paper filters, and bacteria filters. Some machines use all three. 

If your machine has a disposable paper filter, place it inside the machine first, followed by the foam filter. Bacteria filters can be a bit more complicated. If you use a humidifier, you need to place the filter where the air dispenses instead of on your CPAP machine. If you don’t use a humidifier, you can place the bacteria filter on the air outtake of your CPAP machine. Once in position, you can attach the CPAP hose. 

Attaching the CPAP Hose and Mask 

Depending on your treatment course, you’ll need to attach the hose to either the CPAP machine or the humidifier’s air outlet. If you have trouble fitting your hose to the machine, you may need a hose adapter. 

Attaching the hose to the mask is usually straightforward, as most CPAP masks have a connecting point. 

Wearing Your CPAP Mask Correctly 

Once you’ve set up your filters and attached the hose, you need to position the CPAP mask on your face. Hopefully, you used a sizing guide to determine the correct mask size when ordering. And ideally, you’ve already chosen a CPAP mask to suit your sleep position. That’s right – there are different masks for back, side, and stomach sleepers. 

Even if you’ve taken all the necessary steps to find the perfect mask, there are still a few adjustments you need to make to ensure the mask fits correctly. To begin, sit on the edge of your bed and place the mask on your face, allowing the strings to hang loosely. 

Then, lie down as if you were to go to sleep. Gently and slowly pull on the straps on each side, ensuring that you’re pulling the straps at an even rate for the proper fit. You want the mask to be snug but not too tight. 

Take Care of Pressure Settings 

Pressure settings are another important aspect of CPAP machine use. The correct pressure setting should already be set when your CPAP machine arrives at your door. During the sleep study, your doctor likely calculated the pressure you’d need for effective CPAP therapy. 

Therefore, we recommend against making further adjustments to your pressure settings unless your doctor advises you to do so.

Setting up the Humidifier  

While humidifiers are technically optional, most people who use CPAP machines require them. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, helping to prevent a dry nose/mouth when using a CPAP machine. This will leave you feeling refreshed in the morning and make it easier for you to continue with your CPAP therapy. 

Some CPAP machines include humidifiers with purchase, while others sell them separately as an add-on. To set up the humidifier, you only need to fill up the water chamber with distilled water. The water chamber should have an imprinted line that tells you where to stop filling. 

Avoid using tap water in your humidifier, as it can vary in quality, and you want the air you breathe in to be free from impurities. Tap water can also leave a chalky residue behind, making it difficult for you to clean your humidifier. However, you can use vinegar to clean out any chalky film left behind. Check out to learn more about getting the right distilled water for your machine. 

Turning on Your CPAP Machine 

Turning on your CPAP machine is the final step in the process. Make sure your machine is on a flat, stable surface before turning it on. Place it near your bed, and ensure there’s at least one foot of space between the machine and other surrounding objects, such as the wall, curtains, or the bed.

Plug your machine into the nearest outlet. Position your mask on your freshly-washed face and adjust the strings as necessary. You’ll feel the air pressure start to increase, so try to relax and breathe naturally. If you find that the initial pressure is too high for your comfort, you can take advantage of the “ramp” feature. This feature allows the pressure to increase gradually, so you don’t notice the change as much. 

Once everything is set up, you can close your eyes and prepare for a good night’s sleep. 

Remember to Clean Your CPAP Machine

Cleaning your CPAP machine is of utmost importance. CPAP machines can collect dust and debris from the surrounding environment, and inhaling these particles may make you sick or make it harder for you to sleep well. 

To clean, wipe down the sides of the machine to remove dirt and debris. You can run vinegar or mild soap through the hose to clean it, followed by warm water. Allow the hose to drip dry before using it again. 

Disassemble your mask and soak the headgear in warm soapy water to clean it. To avoid material degradation, use color-free and fragrance-free soap. Allow the headgear to dry after cleaning, and then clean the cushions with mild soap. Allow the cushions to dry, then wipe down the mask frames to remove any debris. 

You can reassemble the mask once all components are dry. 

How to Use a CPAP Machine: Time to Get Started 

Now that you know how to use a CPAP machine, it’s time to get everything set up. While the first setup can be a bit difficult, over time, it’ll become second nature. Plus, you’ll be sleeping better than ever!

Check back in with our blog for more CPAP news and tips. 

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Elen Havens