APAP vs CPAP: Are Auto CPAPs Better?

You may already be familiar with CPAP machines, but have you heard about APAP machines? These devices are automatic—that’s what the A stands for. Your pressure will be set to a range that will automatically adjust based on your needs. Some newer models of APAP machines feature Internet connectivity that uploads your sleep data from your machine to a website for you and your doctor to monitor your sleep data and track if any changes are needed.

Ultimately the best machine is the one that best suits your needs. Let’s take a look at APAP machines and see how they are similar and different when compared to CPAP machines.

What’s an APAP Machine?

APAP stands for Automatic Positive Airway Pressure. An APAP machine is a type of sleep apnea machine that can automatically adjust to your pressure needs while you sleep. If it detects you need more or less airflow during the night, it will adjust itself. 

They’re sometimes referred to as “self-adjusting CPAPs” or “automatic titrating positive airway pressure” devices. However, in the sleep health industry, they’re commonly referred to as APAPs or Auto CPAPs.

What’s the Difference Between CPAP and APAP Machines?

The main difference between APAP and CPAP machines is that CPAP machines have a fixed pressure setting, and APAP’s adjust to different pressures automatically based on your nightly needs. The air pressure delivered from both APAP and CPAP machines functions similarly, delivering a continuous stream of pressurized air to prevent your airway from collapsing. The continuous pressurized air helps those with sleep apnea breathe freely throughout the night, leading to a good night’s rest.

You’re now probably asking yourself why would my pressure need to be adjusted? Great question! As time passes, your body and lifestyle changes. For your sleep apnea therapy to be successful, you may need to increase or decrease the pressure of your machine periodically. Depending on your lifestyle and the transformations you go through in your sleep apnea therapy journey, you may need to adjust your pressure several times during the course of your treatment.

If both machines do roughly the same thing, why would you choose one over the other? There are a few key differences that may lead you to choose an APAP over CPAP and vice-versa:

  • Automatic Adjustments to Pressure. The pressure that’s right for you today may not be the pressure that’s right for you tomorrow as your body changes. In some cases, lifestyle changes in addition to any changes in medical conditions may also impact the pressure you need to make your sleep apnea therapy a success.
  • Convenience. An APAP machine automatically adjusts the airflow pressure based on your breathing and does not require as many adjustments to the pressure like a CPAP would. It’s beneficial to have a device that automatically adjusts to the pressure you need on a nightly basis. It’s the auto CPAP settings that make APAP machines so valuable.
  • Cost. An APAP machine can cost as much as $300 more than a CPAP machine. For some customers, it’s a small price to pay for the comfort of an APAP machine, but for others, the cost of an APAP machine may be a barrier. 

Why May an APAP Machine Be Better for You?

APAP machines are more versatile than CPAP machines. As with most things in the world, there are pros and cons when it comes to APAP machines:


  • You Can Use an APAP as a CPAP If You Want. Most APAP machines can also be set to CPAP mode, allowing you to discover which titration therapy works best for you. Who doesn’t love options?
  • If Your Breathing Changes Throughout the Night, You’re Covered. Most people don’t have the same breathing patterns throughout the night, and an APAP adjusts on-the-go to fit your needs.
  • An APAP Adjusts If You’re Sick. If you have a cold or suffer from allergies, your airway can become congested and breathing can be more difficult. Colds happen to everyone, and it’s nice to have a machine that can adjust automatically if you’re more congested than usual.
  • Body Changes Require Different Settings. Changes in your health such as weight loss or weight gain can require different pressure settings, and an APAP will automatically make those adjustments within the range your doctor has set.


We already mentioned cost as a notch drawback against APAP machines, but what are some other things you should be aware of with APAP machines?

  • APAP Isn’t Ideal for CPAP Wearers With Certain Health Conditions. If you have any respiratory or cardiac ailments, APAP may not be the best fit due to the frequent pressure adjustments.
  • Air Leaks. An APAP machine gives your mask seal little room for failure, so be sure that you have a mask that is not only comfortable but also fits securely on your face. If the mask seal isn’t great, it can be problematic if you tend to move a lot during sleep or if you need high air pressure. This may be an easy-to-fix issue depending on the type of machine you get. For instance, every morning the ResMed AirSense 10 listed below gives you an on-screen summary of the previous night’s sleep metrics, including whether or not your mask seal of the previous night was adequate.

Explore Top APAP Machines

The 3 Best APAP Machines

If you’re looking for some of the best APAP machines on the market today, then you’re in luck! We’ve collected a group of our customer’s favorite APAP machines to make shopping for your first or next machine APAP machine a breeze.

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet

The AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP Machine with HumidAir Heated Humidifier is one of our most popular APAP machines! The AirSense 10 builds on the reliable and advanced features of the S9 line but a built-in HumidAir Humidifier has been added to keep your sinuses moisturized. The AirSense 10 features a sleek design that is 23% lighter than previous machines.

Built-In Heated Humidifier
Color LCD Display
One of the Quietest APAPs on the Market
Optional Heated Hose
For Her Version

Why Do Our Customers Love the AirSense 10? The built-in heated humidifier is a game-changer when it comes to the AirSense 10. The quiet machine takes up a small footprint on your nightstand or in your travel bag. The AirSense 10 is a great machine for both at home or on-the-go.

Buy Here

ResMed AirMini

Wanting a machine to take almost anywhere? Weighing only 0.66 pounds, the AirMini AutoSet Travel CPAP Machine is small enough to almost fit in the palm of your hand. The AirMini uses a 20W power supply to further minimize the size of the travel machine. Use the AirMini by ResMed smartphone app to track your therapy progress and adjust your machine settings.

Lightweight and Compact APAP
FAA Compliant
Waterless Humidification System
AirMini Mobile App

Why Do Our Customers Love the AirMini? In the travel category, the AirMini is one of the most popular machines on the market, and it’s easy to see why. Put this machine in your carryon, backpack, or purse and head on your next adventure. For many people who have the AirSense 10 as their home machine, the AirMini is their travel machine of choice. This tiny, lightweight, and quiet machine can connect via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet so you can access your data and settings on the AirMini app.

Buy Here

Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto

The Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto CPAP Machine is a sleek, user-friendly APAP machine. The machine stands out thanks to its multiple advanced features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, SmartRamp, and OptiStart. The DreamStation Auto is also available in a model with an included humidifier to increase your comfort level by adding heat and moisture to your therapy air.

Turns On Automatically
Ramp Feature Slowly Builds Up to Full Pressure
Color LCD Screen Provides Helpful Sleep Data
CPAP Mode Available if Needed

Why Do Our Customers Love the DreamStation Auto? The lightweight and quiet DreamStation Auto is a high-quality machine due to its remarkable automatic adjustments. When you use it, all you have to do is press one button and it starts without needing to partake in a long setup process.

Buy Here

APAP machines work both with you and for you. Life is full of changes and your sleep apnea therapy should adapt with you to each and every curveball.


  1. ELAINE ELKO Reply

    Is this covered by my insurance, most likely? I use a CPAP right now….;.;

  2. ELAINE ELKO Reply


    • MICHAEL LIN Reply

      Thanks for the great questions, Elaine!

      This all depends on your preferred cleaning method. The Lumin CPAP cleaner is very convenient and operates differently than other cleaning products, using UV light to destroy 99% of bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi. Please call 1-800-356-5221 for assistance regarding payment options!


    • MICHAEL LIN Reply

      Hi Allen,

      We advise all customers to use the machine type recommended by their doctor. That being said, it’s important to note the differences between an APAP or BiPAP and speak with your doctor about your personal sleep preferences.

      BiPAP machines provide two distinct pressures. The higher pressure is needed for inhalation, while the lower pressure in need for exhalation. The lower pressure is intended to help you breathe out against the pressure of the machine.

      Auto Adjusting CPAP machines, or APAPs, adjust to your ideal pressure on a breath by breath basis. They can accommodate pressure changes from weight gain or loss, alcohol before bed and changing sleeping positions during sleep.


  3. Can you provide links to medical studies that say APAP is better than CPAP. Many years ago my doctor told me CPAP was better. I realize technologies change and sometimes medical opinions change – trying to get the most updated information.

  4. I have a DreamStation Auto Cpap. I have a problem with the variation in sound when the machine is in the auto mode–my breathing tries to sync with the sound variation of the machine, so I now have it set on cpap. I would like to have it on auto..Any suggestions ?

    • I have the same people with the dreamstation CPAP — I feel as though I have to match my breathing to the high and low pressure cycling but this leads to short and shallow breathing.

      I’d be interested to hear if anyone thinks that auto pap would be better, and if so, how do you find these settings on the machine?

      • Hi Pattie, I am a fan of auto-titrating machines because the machine will give you the pressure that you need on a breath-by-breath basis. This way, you are not receiving too little, or too much pressure. Please speak with your doctor about your interest in using your machine in auto-mode.

        If your machine has this feature and you would like to change the mode, we will be more than happy to assist you with the setting change. Please reach us at: 800-356-5221.

        Enjoy your day!

      • Christopher Jung Reply

        Every APAP I have used is basically an adjusting Bi-PaP. You set the min and Max pressure. Say 6 to 18. As you breath as long as everything is going good the pressure will stay low, one it determines a problem, even so slight you don’t notice, it increases pressure until the breathing is within normal or max pressure is hit.

        I had a Bi-PaP at 6 and 18. ( Wonder where those numbers from above were from?). With data from also my Max pressure used was usually under 9, occasionally if congested to 12-13.

        When I had Bi-PaP the high pressure was obviously much higher than I needed and I almost always woke up with a puffy feeling in face and eyes.

        With lower pressure I had less leakage, blowby ( nasal pillows) and issue with mouth leakage. Add to this I was able to just remove the humidifier. Didn’t need it with APAP. ( Because of APAP or just used to it, I don’t know). Been using a system one from Phillips for about 7 years.

        But research paper, bring info to your doctor (he may not know much about them, mine didn’t) and see if he thinks they are right for you. Best thing is, most if not all APAP will let you disable the auto and run as a standard Bi-PaP and if you have min and Max pressures set to Sam, as a CPAP.

        Hope this helps. I am not a pap expert but 7 years using and stayed at a holiday inn Express.

  5. I use a Dream Station Auto SV.
    As you are aware, there are horrendous, widespread forest fires blanketing the NorthWest where i live right now. I keep all the house windows closed but it is impossible to keep the smoky odor out of my house. Consequently, the SV intake collects what smoky odor there is under my bed and “supercharges” it into my lungs. I wake often and have a sore throat from the smoke. Additionally, I meticulously clean what I can of the machine but there’s no way to clean the inside of the machine where smoke particles seem to be lingering… so two questions:
    1 Is it alright to run the machine for several hours without any accessories attached to try to purge the smoky odor from inside, and
    2 is there any kind of remote ‘super’ filter that can be attached outside of the machine to trap really offensive odors (whenever a skunk goes off outside the machine gathers his stink and it’s like he’s sitting on my chest!)?

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