If you’ve got friends with sleep apnea – and you probably do – it’s only a matter of time before start comparing notes, trying to determine which CPAP mask is best. It’s not like it’ll come to blows, but once you find the mask that works best for you, it might be hard even to imagine that another kind could work better.
Here’s the rundown – in no particular order – of the most popular CPAP masks, and why people like them. Remember, there is no truly perfect mask across the board. A lot depends on your sleep position, bedtime habits, facial features, and the air pressure prescribed for your CPAP machine.
Nasal CPAP Masks
This one only covers your nose. Its flexible triangular silicon cushion comes in a lot of different sizes. The nasal CPAP mask doesn’t work well for people who breathe through their mouths as they sleep. If your prescribed CPAP air pressure is a higher setting, this may be the perfect mask for you. On the downside, your mask may leave red marks around your nose if you make it too tight – but the marks will likely go away by the time you’ve finished your morning coffee.
Think of earbuds… but for your nostrils, and without the music. Nasal pillows are small and don’t cover your face, so they’re perfect for glasses wearers who like to fall asleep reading or watching television. It’s also a good choice for men with beards – it can be hard to get a good seal with a facial mask. You’ll get a steady stream of air right into your nasal cavity. Potential challenges here include a higher potential for dry nose or nosebleeds. It’s really important to get nasal pillows that fit you well so your nostrils don’t get sore.
The Full-Face CPAP Mask This is what most people picture when they think about CPAP masks. It’s the best bet if you breathe through your mouth as you sleep, and can decrease dry mouth symptoms if that’s been a problem for you. The full-face mask is great for back sleepers, and especially for those with higher air pressure prescriptions. Oddly, it’s also a good option for CPAP users who experience claustrophobia, since the mask only comes into contact with the edges of your face instead of on your lip and nose. Of course there’s a downside – these masks are more often to blame for dry eyes than other models. It can also be challenging to read or watch TV wearing a full-face mask because it’s a bit bulkier. Same goes for sleeping on your stomach.
So, how do you choose?
Certainly not on fashion grounds, right? The whole point of wearing your CPAP mask is to breathe better while you’re sleeping. It’s not an accessory anyone would choose for its looks. Instead, consider the following points as you evaluate your mask:
Is it comfortable?
Do you feel claustrophobic?
How well can you sleep on your back?
How about on your side?
Do you watch television or read before you go to sleep?
Do you have a beard?
Do you wear glasses?
Are you still snoring?
If you’ve got a mask you already sleep and breathe well in, stick with it. If you’re having challenges getting great results from your CPAP therapy, looking for a change might be a good idea.
One of our CPAP mask experts would be happy to help you decide which mask is likely to work best for you. The very best CPAP mask is the one you’ll actually use – and we want to help you find that mask.