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Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are devices that can help people with sleep apnea breathe better. A person has to wear a mask while they are sleeping and connect it to the machine, as this blows air into their nose and mouth and keeps their airways open.

This article explores different CPAP machines available on the market, factors to consider when choosing one, and some products that a person can consider purchasing. It also discusses some safety considerations and when to consult a doctor.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

OSA is a condition that relaxes the throat muscles during sleep, leading to the narrowing of the airways when an individual breathes in. OSA affects 34% of males and 17% of females in the United States and can cause breathing problems during sleep time.

CSA occurs due to a signaling issue in the nervous system and results in pauses of breath.

Individuals with either type of the condition will need to use a CPAP machine.

There are three types of CPAP machines:

  • CPAP: This type provides a single, adjustable amount of air pressure to a person’s airways to help keep them open when the person inhales and exhales. If the person wishes to change the air pressure, they need to reset the device.
  • Automatic positive airflow pressure (APAP): This machine automatically adjusts air pressure based on a person’s breathing patterns as they sleep. The breathing can change depending on the person’s sleeping position and any medications they may be taking.
  • Bi-level positive airflow pressure (BiPAP): These machines may be suitable for individuals who cannot use CPAP devices or those who have high carbon dioxide levels in their bloodstream. These devices come with two pressure settings, as they provide a reduced airflow for exhalation and a high airflow for inhalation.

Learn about CPAP machines for side sleepers here.

A few factors a person may wish to consider before purchasing a CPAP machine include:

  • Noise levels: A CPAP machine operates while a person is asleep, so it may be best to choose one with a quiet motor to avoid disturbances.
  • Portability: Machines that are lightweight and small may be suitable for a person who travels often.
  • Price: Some machines can be expensive, so individuals may want to consider their budget before making a purchase. If a person has health insurance, they can also check whether their health insurance provider can cover the cost of the device.
  • Adjustability: The amount of pressure that CPAP machines produce varies. People can opt for a product that comes with adjustable pressure levels.
  • Warranty length: Many devices come with a warranty that covers repair and replacement costs if the device breaks down during the warranty period.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet

Best overall CPAP machine

This ResMed AirSense device features a front-facing color LCD display and an automatic adjustment function that delivers the lowest pressure levels. Moreover, it can differentiate between CSA and OSA.

People who buy this machine can also benefit from other features, such as:

  • an integrated heated humidifier
  • a cloud-based system for remote troubleshooting
  • an AutoRamp function, which can detect when the user is asleep and increase pressure as required
  • an ambient light sensor
  • a quiet motor
  • pressure relief on exhalation

The ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP machine comes with a 2-year warranty and costs $969.

DeVilbiss IntelliPAP Auto

Best budget CPAP machine

This model from DeVilbiss comes with a large backlit LCD monitor, the AutoAdjust technology, and other features, including:

  • a quiet motor
  • a long power cord for flexibility of placement in the room
  • slip resistant pads on the bottom of the device
  • pressure release on exhalation
  • an integrated heated humidifier
  • sleep therapy results if users connect the device to the internet

The DeVilbiss IntelliPAP Auto CPAP machine has a 5-year warranty and a price of $499.

HDM Z2 Auto Travel

Best portable CPAP machine

This CPAP machine is suitable for traveling, as it is small and weighs 10.5 ounces (oz).

Its other features include:

  • auto adjusting pressure
  • an integrated rechargeable battery that lasts for the duration of sleep
  • waterless humidification
  • a quiet motor
  • a customizable ramp mode
  • expiratory pressure relief for easy breathing
  • an auto start and stop feature

Moreover, the product is compatible with any mask and has certification for use on board of an aircraft.

The HDM Z2 Auto Travel CPAP machine comes with a 30-night risk-free guarantee and is available online for $575.

ResMed AirMini Travel

Best quiet CPAP machine

This ResMed CPAP machine weighs 10.6 oz and can fit in the palm of a person’s hand, so people can use it while traveling. It is also approved for in-flight use.

Individuals who use this device can benefit from the following features:

  • a waterless humidification system
  • an app so users can monitor sleep data and change settings accordingly
  • auto adjusting pressure
  • the AutoRamp technology, which increases pressure when a person falls asleep
  • expiratory pressure relief
  • a quiet motor

The ResMed AirMini Travel CPAP machine is only compatible with some ResMed mask models.

This device comes with a 30-day risk-free trial, a 2-year warranty, and a price of $869.

A 2014 study found that common side effects of CPAP machines are:

  • dry mouth
  • waking during sleep
  • blocked nose
  • mask pressure
  • mask leaks

A person may also feel claustrophobic when they first use the device. This may mean that a more lightweight nasal pillow mask or still other device may be a better fit for them.

It is also of note that using a properly fitting mask plays a role in its effectiveness.

A person should consult a doctor if they think they have sleep apnea. Symptoms can include:

  • experiencing interrupted breathing during sleep
  • making gasping noises when asleep
  • snoring loudly
  • waking regularly during sleep time
  • experiencing tiredness, mood swings, and poor concentration during waking hours
  • waking up with a headache

A person with sleep apnea may benefit from the use of a CPAP machine during sleep, as it provides a continuous airflow and keeps the airways open.

CPAP machines require a prescription, and they generally have quiet motors and a lightweight design so people can use them when traveling.

Most of these machines do not come with a mask, so a person may need to purchase this separately.