5 Tips to a Great Night’s Sleep with a CPAP Machine

by john

I’ve been using a CPAP machine for a few months now ever since being diagnosed with sleep apnea. I really struggled at the start, only averaging 2-3 hours per night with the machine. After that I would wake up and not be able to get back to sleep with the CPAP machine, so I would have to get up and finish my night’s sleep on the couch (my snoring would keep up my wife).

Now, however, I am getting a full night’s sleep using the device. How did I do it? Here are 5 Tips to a Great Night’s Sleep with a CPAP Machine:

Tip#1 – Pay attention at your sleep study

In order to get off to a good start using your CPAP machine I highly recommend you listen to everything they tell you at your sleep study. Especially the next day, assuming they fit you with a machine. In my case I think I was really only half-listening and when I got home I was not 100% sure of some small things related to fitting the mask. They had sized it for me but there were some minor adjustments I could make and I wasn’t exactly sure how to properly wear the mask. It wasn’t until I visited the doctor a month later that I got around to asking about how to properly wear the mask. I am sure I would have gotten off to a better start had I listened on day one.

Tip#2 – Visit your doctor after a month

It’s very important to follow-up with your doctor relatively soon after you first start using the CPAP machine. In my case I was scheduled for another visit a little over a month after my sleep study. I don’t know if that is standard or not, but I think it is very important. It gave me a chance to ask questions about fitting the mask as well as having the pressure adjusted on the machine. Based on feedback I gave her my doctor suggested that they were not aggressive enough when they initially setup the machine and so she called their techie in to increase the airflow pressure. She made it sound like this was a fairly common practice – that if they set it correctly at first it could scare some people off. I adjusted to the increased pressure in no time and I am confident it is now set correctly for me. Don’t assume they will calibrate your machine correctly the first time!

Tip#3 – Invest in a memory foam pillow

Before I bought a memory foam pillow my wife was complaining that I was still snoring a little bit at night unless I rolled over on my side. Well, with the CPAP mask on it can be hard to roll to the side. I’m not sure exactly why I thought it would help, but I went out and bought a Serta 4-Pound Density Memory Foam Contour Pillow by Sleep Innovations and I will be darned if that didn’t do the trick. No more snoring at all! How does that help my sleep? No more poking me to get me to move on my side! Ah, blissfull sleep.

Tip#4 – Use ear plugs

On a whim I picked up an 80-pack of foam ear plugs while shopping at Home Depot. One of the things that had been waking me up in the middle of the night was various sounds emanating from my mask when I shifted positions – minor leaks, noise from the machine, etc. Using these cheap earplugs made a huge difference for me in that I rarely wake up in the middle of the night anymore.

Tip#5 – Develop a nightly routine

It took me awhile to develop a routine but once I did I think it has been helpful. When I am ready to sleep I make sure my nasal passages are clear, put in my ear plugs, don my mask (not yet hooked up), and rest my head on my pillow. I take some deep breaths. Then I turn on the machine and while the air is blowing out of the tubing I attach it to the mask, while breathing in. Then I focus on taking a number of really deep breaths, and then slowly decrease the “size” of my breaths. In no time I get into a rhythm and fall asleep. There were some nights where I just couldn’t get going because the mask didn’t feel right and I felt almost claustrophobic. That has not happened since developing this routine.

I can’t guarantee that you will ever get accustomed to your CPAP machine but these tips helped me and I hope they will help you too. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Max F Contreras December 1, 2009 at 12:06 am

I have been using a cpap machine for about 7 years. After my initial sleep study, I received my machine – it was calibrated – and I brought it home and I have been using it since. I have never had any follow up treatment, nor has the machine been recalibrated. Does the fact that I have gained approximately 10-20 pounds since the machine was initially calibrated? My wife constantly makes the comment that she does not believe that the machine still operates in the same manner that it operated during the first few years after I started using it. I would appreciate some feedback. Thank you.

john December 12, 2009 at 5:56 pm


I am no doctor, so I would recommend that you visit one to discuss – but it seems to me that if by “does not believe that the machine still operates in the same manner” your wife is implying that you are snoring at night, then I would believe that it probably does need to be adjusted. I suspect the wives are the first to know when there is a problem with your CPAP machine!

Good luck, and congrats for using it for so long.

Chris Markis October 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I received an Elite II It was initially calibrated to 7, with a 5 minute ramp-up from 4. I immediately turned OFF the ramp-up, was “sucking hose” til the ramp-up finished. Later, had it adjusted to 10, then it was great.

There is a “small” air filter on the unit. If you don’t replace that filter at least every 6 months, you’ll cause the air flow to drop drastically over time. Check it monthly, pending the amount of dust and pollen in your area, you may need to replace it more often.

I found a local Medical Supply store nearby to get replacement parts and filters. They don’t charge for “calibration” checks. I thought mine was “off calibration” because we moved from “sea level” to 4000 feet above sea level. They checked the machine and explained that this model actually compensates for altitude (nice). Though, they recommended I ask the doctor for an increase, if I was still not comfortable. It may be due to the altitude, anyway, or I might just need it increased.

If you cannot locate a Dr. to adjust it, the Medical Supply store “WILL NOT” adjust it without a “prescription from your Dr., however, IF you GOOGLE SEARCH your machine for adjusting, you may find a site that will “share” the “commands” to allow you access to the “pressure level settings”. I changed mask types and had to bump my pressure up a notch for the different mask to get the same effect. No Problem ….

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