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My First Night With CPAP

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  • My First Night With CPAP

    I know this forum doesn’t seem to have many active posters, other than Intus staff, but it always seems to have a large number of guests, no doubt people trying to learn more about OSA and CPAP. As such, I thought I would contribute what my first night was like, to give an idea to others starting what I might be like.

    So setting up the machine was pretty straight forward. I got the Auto DreamStation machine because firstly, as I had zero experience with OSA, Philips was the only brand I knew, (This was an entirely emotional decision, but I like to stick with brands I know.) and secondly, it has bluetooth and an app to make tracking your therapy more convenient.

    The Mask

    I took my time setting up and adjusting the fit of my mask (mine was a nasal pillow type), and I strongly suggest reading the manual for your mask. I probably spent 10-15 mins on the mask to ensure it fitted well, and was comfortable.

    After sleeping a night with the mask, my nose was sore. You know when you have cold, and from the tissue use of blowing and wiping your skin gets sore. That’s what it felt like in the morning. In my case, the mask is modular, with frame section and a pillow section. The medium pillow was a perfect fit, but I think I need to switch to a larger frame for a more comfortable fit.

    First time with the machine turned on

    This was the hardest part for me. I had assumed I would need to prepare myself physically for breathing with increased pressure, especially on the exhale. Some people have difficulty exhaling with CPAP. For me, exhaling wasn’t an issue at all.

    In my case, inhaling was the hardest part. The sensation, although no way near as severe, reminded me of inhaling the air from an inflated balloon. Physically, it was an extremely mild and very light pressure (4 cmH20) but psychologically, I found the experience to be a little overwhelming.

    After a few minutes, I decided to come off of the machine. I grabbed my tablet and literally searched “How to breath with CPAP?” I found this article which was helpful and the recommended videos at the bottom of the article helped a lot too. Especially the demonstration showing how mild CPAP pressure is in comparison to the pressure we create with normal breathing.

    I felt reassured that the pressure was nothing to worry about and tried again, but it was still quite hard for me to relax and breath normally. I would be very manual and deliberate on inhaling and exhaling, but I was overthinking it. One moment I was breathing too fast and felt woozy, then next moment I wasn’t breathing a enough and started gasping for air.

    It looked like I was going to be in for a rough night, but before going to bed, I decided I needed a distraction and turned on the playstation.It started to work. The game distracted me, and it was easier to wear the mask with pressure on. Still, every know and then, my attention snapped back to CPAP and it was a little tricky again.

    But then, something magical happened. I play with headphones, and when the game music got loud, I could not here the CPAP machine at all. The magical part was I could breath normally. The sound of the machine and the noise of the air rushing out of the mask valves was drowned out. No matter how hard I concentrated, I could not hear them. THIS WAS HUGE! I then noticed that I’m breathing normally. It wasn’t hard at all to inhale or exhale. It just felt normal! This made me feel tons better, and really highlighted how important it was for me to stay out of my head!

    I think if you have difficulty getting used to CPAP, definitely consider putting in headphones and listening to music to drown out all the scary noises.

    After finishing my game, I took the headphones out. I felt a lot safer, emotionally, and wanted to give CPAP a shot without headphones, to feel more comfortable with it. I did get inside my head a few times, and found it was hard to breath normally again, but I decided to do breathing exercises. “In, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Out, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4.” That was enough to get to sleep.

    In summary

    First night was a huge success. It went so much better than I would have imagined. My AHI has dropped dramatically which is so encouraging. I was also impressed there wasn’t a single mask leak. I did wake up a lot, so I do feel a little tired, but I am sure I will get used to CPAP soon enough, and enjoy a deep sleep. I genuinely feel a goodnight’s sleep is in my reach. It’s so close I can almost touch it.

    I know everyone has their own experiences. Some take to CPAP like a duck-to-water, others it may take a while, but hopefully my experience will help give you an idea of what it is like on your first night.

    For the data lovers:

    Mask fit: 100% (DreamWear Nasal Gel Nasal Pillow)
    CPAP Usage: 7:52
    90% Pressure 12.5 cmH2O
    Average CPAP Pressure 8.8 cmH2O
    Total Clear Airway Apneas 8
    Total Obstructive Apneas 16
    Total Hypopneas 14
    AHI 4.8
    tl;dr Pressure felt weird psychologically, but when distracted it was unnoticeable. Went from 110 AHI (untreated) down to 4.8 AHI on the first night.

  • #2
    Hi James,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with others users. You are correct getting on with your equipment could take some time and adjustment.

    Being comfortable with your mask is vital for successful CPAP therapy. Here are some of our suggestions to help you make the transition into regular sleep with your mask and machine just a little bit easier. 1) Wearing your mask during the day for an hour or two will help you adjust to the new feeling of the CPAP mask. 2) Try to avoid putting on your mask just before going to sleep. Instead, wear it for an hour while reading or listening to music while you wind down. This lets your face adapt to the pressure and feel of your mask. 3) Using a ramp function will give a period of lower pressure. This lets you acclimatise to the sensation of breathing with the airflow, easing you into the experience and allowing you to fall asleep more easily.

    If you’re distracted by the noise of your CPAP, try using earplugs. They improve sleep quality anyway, so blocking out the CPAP is a bonus.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further assistance.



    • #3
      Wearing your mask during the day for an hour or two will help you adjust to the new feeling of the CPAP mask.
      To be honest, it feels fine and isn’t uncomfortable at all. It was only sore after wearing it all night, which I think is because it’s just a little bit too tight. I think I’m right on the line between the medium and large frame. Hence why I feel I may need the larger frame.

      Using a ramp function will give a period of lower pressure. This lets you acclimatise to the sensation of breathing with the airflow, easing you into the experience and allowing you to fall asleep more easily.
      Yea, I tried that. It starts at 4 cmH2O which is where it feels strange psychologically. (at least for me) Weirdly enough, I woke up late at night to a higher pressure and it was comfortable. Went to toilet and came back, and it started back again at 4 cmH2O, which was weirdly more uncomfortable.

      I’ll get used to it, just may take a few goes.

      try using earplugs
      I was thinking the same thing.


      • #4
        Hi James,

        You seem to do all it needs to get used to your new equipment. And you know where we are if you need any further assistance.