What is the difference between CPAP and APAP?

When you have sleep apnea, getting treatment is the right step to feeling rested and becoming healthy again. Chances are you were prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine as part of your treatment. By wearing a mask over your face or mouth, this device sends a steady and continuous flow of air through your airways to keep them open while you sleep. This prevents the frequent interruptions in your sleep to make sure you get a quality slumber each and every night.

Although it is the common term, did you know that CPAP is not the only type of sleep apnea treatment out there? Another option is the Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machine. Like a CPAP machine, the APAP also delivers air into your airways to keep them open while you sleep. That leads to the question: what are the differences between the two and which one is right for you?


Seeing as both types of machines delivers a constant flow of air, which one do you choose? The key is in the amount of pressure that each type delivers. A CPAP machine has only one pressure setting for the air it sends. Even if your weight, your sleeping position, or your state of sleep changes, the pressure does not change when using a CPAP machine.

On the other hand, an APAP machine has automatically adjusting settings. When it senses changes in your sleep needs, the machine will change between the lower and higher pressures during the night so that your get quality sleep. Even better, you can choose to set your APAP machine to just one setting to mimic a CPAP device.

Make the Best Choice

Different types of machines to address sleep apnea have their own benefits and drawbacks. Consider comfort, durability, restfulness, and affordability when determining whether to choose CPAP or APAP. Ask your doctor for advice and ask your sleep apnea technician for recommendations. And don’t be afraid to try both types of machines to see which one is better for you. Make the right choice, and get back on the road to quality sleep.