Sleep disorders are a common health issue in the U.S., including sleep apnea. Approximately, 22 million people in the U.S. are struggling with sleep apnea today and 80 percent of them have moderate to severe untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
The position you sleep in has a huge influence on the quality of your sleep. Being comfortable matters since when you’re not comfortable, you don’t sleep well.
If you’re currently receiving continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, finding the best CPAP mask is important — especially if you’re a side sleeper.
The Challenges with CPAP Therapy and Side Sleeping
Side sleeping is often suggested since it can help to alleviate insomnia and provide digestive relief for conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Using CPAP therapy to treat sleep apnea is a huge step towards preventing chronic health issues that can result from untreated sleep breathing disorders.
But, one drawback of CPAP therapy you could encounter is not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position while you wear a mask, especially a full face mask. The bulk of a full face mask, for instance, makes it difficult for patients who tend to sleep on their side because of the chances of it becoming displaced while in these positions.
Side sleepers need a mask that will stay on even when it presses up against a pillow. A flexible mask works well. A mask that features a cloth surface where the mask and face meet and soft-touch buckles is a good option too. One that fits under your nose instead of over it can help make side sleeping more comfortable as well.
What’s the best CPAP mask for side sleepers? People who sleep on their sides can consider a nasal pillow mask or a nasal mask, and each has their own sets of benefits.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks
Also referred to as nasal cushions, nasal pillow CPAP masks are a smaller-sized mask. These masks are simple to sleep with since they rest right under your nostrils and they come with unobtrusive headgear.
You insert your nasal pillow mask at the outer edges of your nostrils, rather than over your entire nose It rests right above your upper lip. The two pillows or cushions seal to your nose and deliver pressure more directly than some other CPAP masks.
Nasal pillows have dual-wall flaps that provide comfort and ergonomic support while you sleep. The mask has a built-in flexible chamber ensuring the mask stays in place even if you shift from side to side. The set of Soft Wraps and silicone-based headgear are made to maintain the seal of the mask.
A doctor or sleep specialist might recommend a nasal pillow CPAP mask if you:
- Experience claustrophobia when you wear larger masks
- Toss and turn while sleeping
- Have a lot of facial hair
- Breathe through your nose
The Benefits of a Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask
There are many benefits to a nasal pillows mask, including:
- Maintains a good seal.
- Great for side and stomach sleepers.
- Provides better vision than full face masks or regular nasal CPAP masks.
- Good for people with claustrophobia secondary to having something on their face.
- They work well for people with a beard or mustache.
- They reduce air leakage because they direct air directly into your nasal passages.
- They work well if you wear glasses because they don’t cover the bridge of your nose.
Nasal CPAP Mask
Also referred to as an oronasal mask, a nasal mask is worn only over your nose. It has a rounded, triangular shaped dome and is meant to fit the contours of your face comfortable. Nasal masks come in a variety of shapes and sizes which makes them a good choice since there’s a mask that can fit just about every patient.
This mask delivers pressurized air through a tube into the space of the mask. You’re supposed to inhale the air only through your nose, making it a good mask for people who naturally breathe through their nose and require a higher pressure.
With this type of mask, the pressure is delivered less directly into your mask so it feels like you’re breathing regular air. People who toss and turn or like sleeping on their side can benefit from a nasal mask. However, individuals with nasal or sinus problems like head colds or allergies might find this type of mask uncomfortable when they are dealing with one of these conditions.
The nasal mask is made for comfort and easy adjustment. The cushion uses a variety of thickness levels offering a reliable seal for all nasal and facial structures. Its frame is flexible and adapts to any movement you might make during the night.
This makes it easy for side sleepers to change their position without readjusting their mask. The mask has a plush, soft fabric headgear that helps reduce marks and pressure when you sleep on your side.
A doctor or sleep specialist might recommend a CPAP nasal mask if you:
- Prefer a more natural airflow
- Require a higher pressure setting
- Move around a lot in your sleep
- Want a variety of mask options you can choose from
The Benefits of a Nasal CPAP Mask
The nasal CPAP mask has many benefits as well, including:
- Most natural feeling
- Indirect and natural airflow
- Less surface area to seal as opposed to a full face mask
- Works better than nasal pillows for higher pressure settings
- A variety of styles to cater to almost any facial feature and structure
- Good if you move around in your sleep or sleep on your side
The Need for a CPAP Pillows Mask Designed to Minimize Pressure or Lifting of the Mask
For some individuals, particularly people with high-pressure setting needs, it can be quite challenging being able to handle all the forced air pressure. However, CPAP pillows masks can help minimize pressure.
When you use the wrong type of mask, you can run into issues like a lifting of the mask, pulling it off while sleeping and leaks. These all can lead to a failure of compliance.
Nasal pillows are a lightweight and compact option designed to have minimal contact with your face. They are ideal for patients requiring low to moderate pressure settings because the air is delivered directly to your nostrils and could be uncomfortable at higher settings. They also reduce air leakage since the air goes straight to your nostrils.
Shop for Best CPAP Mask for Side Sleepers: Nasal Pillows and Nasal Mask at CPAP.com
Comfort, fit and size are all important considerations when you choosing a CPAP mask. If your mask isn’t comfortable, doesn’t fit, or fails to meet your breathing requirements, chances are you won’t stay compliant with your CPAP therapy.
The good news is today you have lots of choices. At CPAP.com, we carry more than 1,000 products, including more than 230 CPAP masks, so you’re sure to find one that fits you like a glove.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.