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CPAP therapy is a successful treatment for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). There is a range of CPAP machines and masks available, and we look at some that are suitable for side sleepers.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s airways become blocked. People with OSA may temporarily stop breathing in their sleep. It is a serious condition that requires treatment.
Often, the airways become blocked because soft tissues in the throat collapse and close when a person relaxes during sleep. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea is as common as type 2 diabetes, affecting about 18 million people in the United States.
Anyone can have sleep apnea, but males over 40 who have overweight are more likely to have the condition.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most common treatment for OSA.
This article describes how CPAP therapy works and outlines some of the best mask options for side sleepers.
The American Lung Association state that CPAP is a very successful treatment option for people with obstructive sleep apnea.
CPAP therapy involves wearing a mask attached to a device that pumps air into a person’s airway while they sleep. Straps keep the mask in place.
CPAP machines help ensure a steady flow of air enters a person’s airway. The air pressure from the device keeps the airway open and prevents it from collapsing in on itself.
CPAP machines do not cure sleep apnea. They help ease symptoms, but they do not address the root cause of the problem.
Typically, people purchase CPAP machines and accessories from medical supply companies.
According to a 2020 article, people with the following conditions may be unsuitable for CPAP therapy:
- those in a coma or who are unable to breathe on their own
- facial burns
- those recovering from face, throat, or stomach surgery
- nausea and vomiting
A CPAP mask should fit comfortably, but it may take time for a person to get used to sleeping while wearing one.
There is a range of masks to suit different people. People who breathe through their mouths while asleep may choose a full mask or one with a strap, while nose-breathers may prefer nasal masks or models with nose cushions.
Many people stop using CPAP because they find it hard to sleep wearing a mask. This can be detrimental to health. Choosing a mask that does not interrupt a good night’s sleep is a crucial part of CPAP therapy compliance.
People who sleep on their side may encounter issues with CPAP therapy. If their pillow is too soft, the fabric can block mask ports, which can be dangerous.
Side sleepers may also experience mask movement during the night. Some masks also create uncomfortable pressure on the cheek for side sleepers.
Picking the right mask is a personal process and may require experimentation.
If side sleepers experience issues with mask-wearing, they can try special CPAP pillows. These pillows accommodate people wearing CPAP masks and help side and stomach sleepers find a comfortable sleep position.
Here are a few CPAP mask options for side sleepers:
Please note that the writer of this article has not tested these products. All information in this article is research-based, and we do not intend to recommend certain products over others.
ResMed Swift FX Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask with Headgear
The ResMed Swift is a simple, lightweight, ultra-quiet mask. The sleek mask is travel-friendly and features an improved pillow design for side sleepers. The nasal pillows help maintain a seal while accommodating nighttime movement.
A lycra-type material makes up the straps, and the unit fastens with handy Velcro points. The company also sells another version of the Swift FX with the female head shape in mind.
ResMed AirFit P10 Nasal Pillow Mask
This mask is a lightweight unit that features QuieAir vent technology, making it much quieter than other masks.
Flexible tubing allows for freedom of movement, and an elastic head strap keeps the key-clip nasal pillows in place. Straps are also adjustable.
Fisher & Paykel Brevida Nasal Pillow Mask
This model is another nasal pillow mask with soft, adjustable straps.
It features an AirPillow seal, which prevents leaks and nasal irritation. The quiet unit also has a washable air diffuser.
Eson 2 Nasal CPAP Mask
The Eson 2 features a lighter frame than its predecessor. The sleeker headgear design is stretchier than before, which makes it easy to take on and off.
A washable diffuser dampens noise, so it will not disturb a person’s sleep partner.
Circadiance Sleep Weaver Advance Small Soft Cloth Nasal CPAP Mask with Headgear
Here is another lightweight CPAP mask option that features a soft cloth component to boost comfortability for wearers. The breathable material prevents welts and irritation but also creates a tight seal.
The company offers a 30-day guarantee for this accessory, which may help those trying out various mask options.
While CPAP therapy is the primary treatment for sleep apnea, it does not cure the condition.
In addition to a CPAP machine, the American Lung Association recommend the following lifestyle changes:
- losing weight
- quitting smoking
- avoiding certain sleep positions (e.g., lying on one’s back)
- avoiding alcohol and other sedatives
An article in Neurology Clinical Practice indicates that mandibular advancement (MA) devices are an alternative to CPAP machines for people with mild sleep apnea.
An MA fits inside a person’s mouth and moves the jaw forward to help prevent airway obstruction.
OSA is a potentially dangerous sleep condition that can cause a range of complications, including heart problems, fatigue, and headache.
CPAP is an effective treatment for OSA symptoms. However, finding the correct mask is an essential factor in sticking to this type of therapy.