CPAP 101

CPAP is a common type of therapy for those suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where your airways frequently close while you try to sleep. This causes many short yet frequent interruptions while you sleep, affecting the quality of that sleep as well as the quality of your waking hours.

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is an effective treatment for sleep apnea. As the name suggests, your CPAP machine is designed to send gentle yet continuous pressure along through your airways to keep them open. Over time and with nightly usage, you will get better sleeps, meaning deeper sleeps. This trickles into your day, allowing you to feel less stressed and irritable, and having better focus and overall outlook. 

How Does a CPAP Machine Work?

There are three main components of your CPAP machine:

  1. The motor: The motor is like a small compressor that takes in air at room temperature and gently pressurizes it to just the right level so that it will keep your airways open but without disturbing your sleep. It also has a filter to keep out some particulates and other items. You can get accessories for your motor, such as a humidifier, to increase your comfort. A CPAP motor is very quiet – you will barely notice it!
  2. The hose: The hose is the delivery system for the pressurized air. It attaches from the motor to your mask (explained below). Although the length of the hose can vary based on the machine, they tend to be about 6 feet long.
  3. Your mask: The mask that you wear is how the pressurized air actually gets into your airways. You can find masks in all shapes and sizes to fit the variety of facial shapes and sizes. There are also different types of masks – nasal masks, nasal pillows, and full face masks.

Note that there are other accessories that can increase the convenience and comfort of your CPAP machine.

Once you have been prescribed a CPAP machine, the most important thing you can do is to use it every night. If you use it infrequently or stop using it, then your sleep apnea symptoms tend to return, If you need help finding a comfortable CPAP setup, ask your doctor or CPAP suppler. Get the treatment you need to get long and restful sleeps again.