CPAP Masks For Side Sleepers – What You Should Know
Finding CPAP masks for side sleepers can be a difficult task for many sleep apnea sufferers. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) as a sleep apnea treatment has many problems, and one of the biggest complaints patients have is they simply can’t get comfortable or used to wearing a cpap mask.
This can be caused due to the way the mask fits, irritations it might cause while sleeping, and constraints the mask puts on finding a comfortable sleeping position. This problem is even more troublesome for people who sleep on their sides since many masks aren’t made to accommodate this type of sleeping position.
When CPAP is ineffective or simply isn’t an option, CPAP alternatives can and should be sought. Many people don’t realize sleep apnea treatments outside of CPAP and surgery do exist and can be highly effective. Marc MacDonald explores CPAP alternatives in, “Cure Your Sleep Apnea Without CPAP”.
Many new CPAP users have no idea where to start to find a good mask, and even experienced CPAP users may struggle for months to find a mask that fits properly, doesn’t leak, doesn’t cause irritation, and allows them to sleep on their side if they’re used to doing so. Choosing the right CPAP mask becomes more important and more of a dilemma when you consider they usually can’t be returned once opened due to sanitation and hygiene issues.
In general, a CPAP system will consist of a CPAP machine, the tubing which connects the CPAP machine to a CPAP mask, the mask and headgear, and sometimes a humidifier. Picking a good CPAP machine is fairly straightforward. As long as it is fairly quiet and blows air at the right pressure, you shouldn’t have too many cpap machine problems to deal with.
Likewise, as long as CPAP tubing is long enough to reach where it needs to go and is durable enough not to leak, you should have few concerns in this area. A humidifier kept full of water will result in few maintenance issues. However, when it comes to your comfort level and being able to get a good night’s sleep, a CPAP mask is an entirely different story.
Let’s take a look at some different types of masks and see if we can identify the best CPAP masks for side sleepers.
Gel Cushion CPAP Masks
Gel cushion masks are popular among many sleep apnea patients, and consist of a silicone membrane that surrounds a malleable, firm gel. In some cases these masks can be customized (much like the mouth gear many football players wear) by heating up the gel and then placing the mask on a person’s face and letting it cool, thereby creating a form-fitting mold. This is typical of masks like the Respironics Profile Lite.
Bubble Cushion Masks
Bubble cushion masks allow you to get an excellent seal to prevent air leaks without the need to tighten your headgear (the straps, buckles, etc., that hold the mask to your head). This helps to relieve irritation at the nose and forehead which is a common complaint from many people who have tried CPAP as a sleep apnea treatment.
The main cushion on these masks is surrounded by a secondary flap that fills with air when air is blown into the mask. When the secondary flap fills, it acts like a bubble that conforms to the contours of your face by filling in any gaps and creating a tight seal. An example of this type of mask is the ResMed Ultra Mirage II.
Impact Absorbing Cushion Masks
The Mirage Activa is an excellent cpap mask for side sleepers because it falls under the category of impact absorbing cushion masks. These masks are specially designed for active sleepers who constantly shift positions during the night. Extra silicone acts as a shock absorber so more force can be applied to the mask before it starts to push against and irritate your face. However, this also means these types of CPAP masks tend to be a bit more bulky than others.
Combination Gel And Bubble Cushion Masks
These CPAP masks simply combine the best of both gel cushion masks and bubble cushion masks. They offer the customization of a gel mask with the added leak protection of a bubble mask. These are a great all around choice for many people with sleep apnea and are represented by models such as the ComfortGel Nasal CPAP Mask.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks
Nasal pillow CPAP masks are the least invasive type of mask and tend to be lighter and more comfortable than other types of masks. The cushions of nasal pillow masks fit directly into the nostrils rather than requiring a full mask that covers the mouth and nose. Some people experience nasal irritation with these masks, but this can often be remedied with the aid of a humidifier. An example of this type of CPAP mask is the Puritan Bennett Breeze SleepGear CPAP Mask.
Additional CPAP Masks
A couple of other CPAP masks include oral masks and oral/nasal pillow combinations. These can offer good alternatives to a full face mask if you’re a mouth breather, but don’t tend to be as popular as other models.
One final solution is the SleepWeaver Soft Cloth Nasal CPAP Mask. Instead of being made from plastic, these cloth CPAP masks are designed to solve 5 common complaints of sleep apnea patients. These include:
- Air leakage
- Pressure from headgear
- Limited sleep positions
- Skin irritation
The SleepWeaver Soft Cloth Nasal CPAP Mask is designed to allow patients to sleep on their back, sides, or stomach while maintaining a strong seal against the face which prevents air leakage. The cloth is smooth and breathable so patients experience little to no irritation on the skin.
Although many masks aren’t designed specifically for people who sleep on their sides, there are options available which can give you a comfortable fit while preventing air from escaping. This allows you to get the deep, restorative sleep you need.
When looking for CPAP masks for side sleepers, keep in mind you’ll want a mask where the tubing attaches from the front and not from the side. Tubing that attaches to the side will allow you to sleep on one side, but if you roll over, you’ll have to switch the tubing to the other side. Therefore, it’s better to stick to masks that have tubing which attaches to the front of the mask. The Puritan Benett Breeze SleepGear CPAP Mask offers a unique design for side sleepers where the tubing floats over the face and contours the head.
Side sleepers can also benefit by taking advantage of specially designed sleep apnea pillows. These pillows have special contours to provide support and comfort while wearing a CPAP mask. They can help reduce mask pressure and discomfort which also leads to fewer leaks.
Also, keep in mind that CPAP is often given to patients as their only option for treating sleep apnea. However, there are several different CPAP alternatives which are proving to be very effective at curing sleep apnea. Independent researcher, Marc MacDonald, explores these in his sleep apnea treatment guide, “Cure Your Sleep Apnea Without CPAP”.
Filed under: CPAP Masks
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