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Do You Wake Up with Your CPAP Mask Off? (Causes and Solutions)

Table of Contents

💡 Key Takeaways

  • Leaking Mask Solutions: If your mask leaks despite adjustments, consider switching masks or using a chin strap to create a tighter seal.
  • Fit Matters: Work with a sleep specialist to find a mask that fits your face and head shape perfectly to avoid unconsciously removing it during sleep.
  • Dry Mouth Remedies: Use a chin strap or adjust your machine’s humidity settings to combat dry mouth, making it less likely for you to remove the mask.
  • Pressure Adjustments: Incorrect CPAP pressure can cause discomfort. Consult your sleep specialist for optimal settings to ensure a more comfortable and tolerable sleep therapy experience.
  • Getting Used to the Mask: Wear a hybrid mask or try wearing your mask during the day to familiarize yourself with it, reducing the likelihood of removing it subconsciously while sleeping.

As an obstructive sleep apnea patient, you probably know by now that you need to wear your CPAP mask while you sleep to improve the amount and quality of sleep you get each night.

What you may not know, however, is that there can be a bit of a learning curve involved to learn how to sleep efficiently and optimally while wearing your CPAP mask.

There are some common issues people experience while adjusting to sleeping with a CPAP mask, including the problem of waking up consistently to find their CPAP mask off. Many people remove their masks while they are sleeping without ever realizing they’re unintentionally doing so.

Below you will learn about a variety of potential causes and solutions to this fairly common problem of waking up with your CPAP mask off.

Causes and Solutions of Waking Up with Your CPAP Mask Off

The following causes and solutions can help you understand why your mask is coming off while you sleep and, perhaps more importantly, how you can address the problem to prevent it from happening in the future.

Sometimes you will require a little trial and error to identify your specific problem. At other times, it will be immediately apparent what is happening to you when you hear the possible cause.

Cause: Leaking Mask

Solution: If you’ve made numerous adjustments and still have issues with a leaking mask, it may be time to consider other CPAP masks. If you’re not interested in a different mask, consider using a chin strap or even cloth tape to hold the mask in place and create a tighter seal.

Related Reading: How to Choose The Best CPAP Chinstrap For You!

Cause: Improperly Fitting Mask, Headgear, and/or Chinstrap

Solution: You may need to work with your sleep specialist or CPAP mask provider to identify the best possible fit for your face, head size, and head shape. They can help you find the perfect fit for your CPAP make to help you resist the unconscious urge to remove an uncomfortable (poorly fitting) mask while you sleep.

No one feels comfortable sleeping in clothing that is too tight and clothing that is too loose can fall off, get bunched up, etc. The same holds true with your mask. If you don’t have that “just right fit”, you may find yourself removing it during your sleep without even realizing you’ve done it.

Cause: Uncomfortable Dry Mouth From Wearing the Mask

Solution: Use one of the many chin straps available here at CPAP.com to help keep your mouth closed while you sleep. Alternately, or additionally, you may consider adjusting the humidity if your CPAP machine is equipped with a heated humidifier, such as the Philips Respironics DreamStation Heated Humidifier. Creating an atmosphere that is more humid inside the mask can reduce mouth dryness, which improves your comfort, making you less likely to remove the mask while sleeping.

Cause: Too Much or Too Little Pressure

Solution: The wrong amount of CPAP pressure can make it uncomfortable inside your mask and, in some cases, difficult to breathe. Adjusting the pressure provides a much more comfortable sleep solution, one you’re far less likely to attempt to remedy by removing your mask.

If you’re working with a sleep specialist to help you get more productive sleep, consider having them access your sleep data card to determine if your current setting could be adjusted for more optimal sleep results. Another option is to use a pressure ramp that keeps pressure lower while you’re trying to fall asleep before slowly increasing pressure once you’re in a deep slumber.

Cause: Claustrophobia

Solution: This one can be a difficult problem to overcome. Even if you know it’s all in your mind, the panic you experience is very real. You might consider engaging in relaxation exercises (CPAP desensitization) to keep the anxiety at bay. The key is getting accustomed to the mask being there during the day, so you can overcome the panic while you try to sleep.

Cause: Stuffy or Runny Nose After Wearing

Solution: First, make sure your mask is fitting correctly so that it doesn’t allow air leaks that dry your nose out. Then, see if your CPAP comes equipped with a heated humidifier. If so, begin using it to experience nearly instant relief from the problem. If not, consider using nasal spray immediately before putting your mask on to prevent your nasal passages from drying too much as you sleep.

Cause: Not Accustomed to Wearing the CPAP Mask

Solution: Unfortunately, you have to wear the mask to get used to wearing it. One thing you can do is start with a hybrid mask that covers less of your face.

Another option is to wear your mask some during the day, just so that it no longer feels foreign or unfamiliar to you. The idea is that the more familiar the mask seems, the less likely you are to try to remove it, subconsciously, while you sleep.

Cause: Mask is Causing Symptoms Similar to an Allergic Reaction

Solution: If you’re asking yourself whether you might be allergic to your mask, there might be something very wrong. The first thing you need to do is stop wearing the mask and contact your doctor. Then question how often you clean your mask. Sometimes it’s not a matter of being allergic to the mask itself, but a response to what’s on the mask instead.

Most modern masks are made with silicone or another type of gel material. Some older masks, though, may be made with latex which can cause allergic reactions.

Consult with the Experts at CPAP.com

Complying fully with your CPAP therapy instructions is the only way to reap the health and quality of life rewards you can experience from continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Sometimes you need to work closely with experts to find out what is causing your CPAP issues, including removing your CPAP mask while sleeping. If you’ve tried any or all of the solutions above and are still experiencing mouth leaks, you might need a full face mask.

Working with us here at CPAP.com can help you get the insights and answers you need while still adjusting to your continuous positive airway pressure therapy, mask, and machine. Feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-356-5221 or via our live chat. We have experts standing by that can help answer questions about your CPAP machine, mask, issues you’re encountering or sleep apnea in general.

  • David Repasky

    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.

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9 Responses

  1. My problem was completely fixed by upgrading for a CPAP Machine to an APAP.
    Like most people, I have very different pressure requirements during REM and nonREM Sleep
    There was no compromise number that worked. But the APAP did the job perfectly.
    I went from waking multiple times a night to find the mask off my face, to sleeping through the
    Night, waking with the mask still on my face, and my residual AHI is well under 1. Usually between 0.0 and 0.3.

  2. I think I’m suffering from the anxiety of claustrophobia. I have bad anxiety already, and sometimes I feel like my mask is not giving me enough air.

    But I also think the pressure is to high. I don’t have the funds to see a sleep specialist, so is there another way to tell what my CPAP pressure should be at?

    Thanks in advanced.

    1. Hi Eric, I’m sorry to hear about the troubles with your CPAP therapy. Unfortunately, you would need to speak with your doctor, regarding concerns with your pressure setting. Your doctor, can review your sleep therapy data, to make a determination on setting adjustments.

      Also, you may benefit from trying a different mask. We stock a wide variety of masks that may help with your feelings of claustrophobia. If you would like assistance with selecting a different mask, or anything else, please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or via e-mail: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a terrific day!

  3. Ok my problem started about a week ago. Never had this problem. Even when I got my machine couple months ago.
    I’m going to try and adjust my steps see if it helps. But every night my mask falls off. It’s the one that covers nose and mouth. With 2 magnet clips.
    Never had a problem with it falling off my face when I 1st had it. I’m fine with it on when I’m awake don’t bother me any. If it doesn’t stay idk what to do. I don’t have a sleep specialist. (To seek help) Maybe they called me when i first got it. But never followed up

    1. Hi Jacob,
      I’m very sorry for the delayed response. It sounds like you’re having a tough time with your mask. Please keep in mind that over time the headgear stretches, and will need to be changed. However, most headgear will last up to 6 months. Have you lost any significant weight recently? If so, you may need to re-measure yourself to confirm if a different size mask is necessary, or tighten the headgear straps.

      If you would like assistance with fitting, other questions/concerns, or maybe suggestions on a different mask that may be a better fit for you, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      Best Wishes!

  4. I put my mask as DHO5C1 tight as I can. If I am very still, it’s fine, but move a muscle in my face and it leaks. That wakes me up and I take it off

    Any help?

    1. Hi Ann, I’m so sorry you’re having mask leaks. Have you recently changed your mask cushion? It’s recommended you change your mask’s cushion, every 3 months and change your entire mask every 6 months.

      Also, have you confirmed that you have the correct mask size? If not, please do so. We understand that not all masks will work for every person. You may want to try a different style mask, to see if the mask leak is reduced.

      If you would like assistance in selecting a different mask, fitting information, or any other questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  5. I want a “not on CPAP” alarm. My elderly father uses a BiPAP with an app on my phone. Sometimes in his sleep, he will either disconnect the hose, or rip off the mask, and he may or may not turn the machine off. I sleep in a different room, and sometimes I am awake, check on him, and discover that he is off the CPAP, and I may be able to get him back on. He also has dementia and hearing loss. I would like to have some kind of alarm, maybe a light in the hall, to signal when he is not on the mask. He naps a lot during the day, falls asleep, and sometimes I got him on the mask for the nap. It’s all right if the lighted “not on CPAP” alarm is on during the day when my father is not even in bed. How can we set up some kind of “not on CPAP” alarm?

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