The CPAP mask is the direct connection to therapy you’re supposedly receiving. If, however, the mask fits poorly, is uncomfortable, or otherwise doesn’t work for you then this treatment isn’t really… happening. My research finds three characteristics of one’s sleeping style that will quickly narrow the field for mask selection:
Activity while asleep. Once your treatment really starts working you might find that being restless will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, you need a mask that will move with you and maintain an effective seal. For a nasal pillow style, I’ve had success while using Fisher & Paykel Opus 360 mask. For a nasal style mask, consider the ResMed Mirage Activa.
Breathing style. The way you breathe determines the mask’s coverage. The most widely used masks blow air by way of the nose only. Some individuals, however, realize they sleep with their mouths open causing the air pressure to short-circuit out of the mouth. I know this from personal experience… my better half says I sound like a wind tunnel some nights! If you find prefer the nasal-pillow or nasal styles of masks, but sleep with the mouth open then try combining the mask and a chin strap. If breathing via your mouth is usually a necessity, consider the ResMed Mirage Liberty or RedMed Quattro FX full-face active-style masks since they cover your nose and mouth. These masks are likewise highly rated by many users.
Fear of claustrophobia. Wait, isn’t that claustrophobia-phobia? When beginning treatment for apnea a number of us – myself included – aren’t really excited to strap a bulky device to the face that’s tethered to a machine located on the night stand. I fondly refer to it as “my plumbing”. Once I became more familiar with the therapy and the benefits it provided me with, these fears really dissolved. Instead, I ultimately became uncomfortable sleeping without it! Initially, though, these fears may very well be more pronounced – a mask that stays outside the line-of-sight could be the right solution. There are masks in each of the styles that steer clear of your view while they’re on your face, including:
-Nasal-pillow style: Mirage Swift FX
-Nasal style: Mirage FX. While technically not out from view, I’m personally using this type of mask currently and I am discovering it really doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Its architecture is rather trim and simply not bulky.
-Full-face style: ResMed Quattro FX.
You will find lots of masks to pick from and such choices may be overwhelming. Focusing within a few key elements of your sleeping style and requirements makes it possible to quickly narrow these options to a manageable selection. Once you’re there, your equipment provider often has test-fit masks that you could try for making selection even easier.