If you’ve been prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to treat your obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll find there’s a lot of CPAP equipment to sort through, from CPAP machines to masks to tubing and more. CPAP therapy is a full-time commitment, and getting a well-fitting mask will make all the difference when it comes to consistent, effective treatment. Luckily, we carry all types of cpap masks that are designed with comfort and functionality in mind. While your facial anatomy will definitely come into play, your sleeping position is an important factor as well. Let's take a look at how it affects your CPAP treatment.
What CPAP Mask Should I Wear if I Sleep on My Side?
You might find it surprising that even side sleepers have a wide variety of choices when it comes to the right CPAP mask. While there is not a line of masks specifically for side sleepers, some masks work better than others. The key is to find a mask that can maintain a good seal even if the side of your face is resting on your pillow.
Active sleepers and stomach sleepers face a similar challenge when movement or pressure from bedding causes the mask to shift and cause air leaks, even if they are slight. Your full prescribed level of air pressure must be sustained all night for your CPAP therapy to be effective, so think carefully about your sleep habits. Even if you start on your back, you may toss and turn without realizing it. If you often wake up in positions other than on your back and your pillow nowhere in sight, you should look for a mask suitable for side and active sleepers.
Full Face CPAP Masks
Many CPAP users may have assumed a full face mask was off the table for side and stomach sleepers. While it may cover more facial area, today’s full face masks are designed to be lightweight and low profile, unlike their previous counterparts. A full face mask is a great option for mouth breathers, since the air pressure will cover both mouth and nose. Look for a compact mask with a top-of-head tube connection to allow you move freely during the night. The ResMed AirFit F30i is a perfect example of a smaller full face mask that works well for side and active sleepers.
A hollow frame design keeps the mask fit light and comfortable, while allowing the airflow to pass freely to your mask cushion to the top-of-head tube connection If one side of the air tube becomes blocked (by the pressure of your pillow or bedding), the air simply redirects through the other side of the frame. Plus the AirFit 30i sits below the nose, so you don't have to worry about red marks and irritation on the sensitive nose bridge.
For an even more compact mask, consider a nasal CPAP mask. It covers just the nose, so there is less facial area coverage and less mask to interfere with pillows and bedding. However, nasal CPAP masks aren't suitable for people who breathe through their mouth without the addition of a chin strap. An adjustable chin strap, when worn with your nasal mask, can help keep your mouth from falling open during the night, and derailing your CPAP therapy.
A nasal mask like the Fisher & Paykel Eson 2 is a great choice for side sleepers, those who have chin facial hair, or both. It's available with 3 different seal sizes to provide a custom fit. Its narrow design allows more visibility so you can read or watch TV while falling asleep, and the soft cushion minimizes pressure on the bridge of your nose while maintaining a secure seal.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask
A nasal pillow or nasal cushion CPAP mask is the smallest and lightest mask style available. It rests just under the nose and uses two inflatable pillows inserted into the nostrils to deliver the air pressure. Smaller masks like nasal pillow masks are generally preferred by people with facial hair, since facial contact is minimal and facial hair is less likely to interfere with a strong seal. People who find they have claustrophobia with larger masks tend to prefer nasal pillow masks as well.
The ResMed AirFit P10 is our recommendation for a nasal pillow mask for side sleepers, since there is so little contact with the face. The P10's dual-wall silicone nasal pillows stay put all night long, so you can be confident your mask’s seal is secure and your sleep apnea therapy is effective. Plus, it's one of the quietest masks out there, thanks to ResMed’s innovative QuietAir vents, which feature woven-mesh venting that diffuses exhaled air.
CPAP Mask Alternative
Sometimes, CPAP users can't tolerate a traditional mask, and under the guidance of their provider, seek out alternatives like the DreamPort solution by Bleep. Instead of a mask that's held in place with a headgear, the DreamPorts are seals are lined up with the nostrils and secured with in place flexible, hypoallergenic adhesive directly to the wearer's nose. For people who feel claustrophobic with headgear and straps, the DreamPorts may be an ideal solution, and they are compatible with any CPAP machine.
One accessory that comes in handy for side sleepers is a CPAP pillow. It features a broad surface with a specially designed cut-out to rest your mask and tube in. It has plush memory foam to adapt to your head and neck. The pillow maintains its shape while providing exceptional support, so you never have to worry about your mask slipping off or becoming uncomfortable during the night.
Find the Best Fitting CPAP Mask
As you’ve seen, when selecting a mask, consider whether you can achieve a robust seal to maintain the correct air pressure settings. And don’t forget about comfort and practicality. For CPAP therapy to be effective, you have to be able to keep your mask on! A mask with all the bells and whistles may seem like the best option on paper, but it may not work well when you to to try it on for the first time.
Using this handy mask fit guide will help you sort through all your mask options and sizes. Adjusting your headgear and even experimenting with different ones can also help. When trying on masks, make sure to put it on and wear it around the house for a bit, to try to find something you can comfortably wear in a variety of positions.
With any new mask purchase, there is always the possibility that you may not like your mask fit. We offer several fit packs to help with this. They come with 2 or 3 different sizes to ensure you get the right one for you. We also offer a 30-day mask swap guarantee in which you can swap your mask free of charge in the first month. No matter what kind of mask you need or what position you sleep in, we are here to help you find the perfect solution. Be sure to contact us if you have questions about the best mask for your particular preferences and sleep habits.