CPAP Therapy Tips

Why Do I Feel Worse After Using My CPAP Equipment?

If you’re not used to sleeping with CPAP equipment, accommodating new devices into your sleep routine can be a big adjustment. Even if you’re not experiencing some of your prior Sleep Apnea symptoms anymore, you may be feeling severely fatigued and even worse than you did before. This article covers reasons why you may feel worse after starting CPAP therapy, and what you can do to feel better.

Sound familiar? Try not to let these symptoms discourage you. It’s common for people to feel the same or worse after starting CPAP therapy.

The trick is to be consistent, have a good support system, have open communication with your physician, and give it a few months.

Read on for more ways to get the most out of your CPAP therapy.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

When we say CPAP therapy takes time, we don’t just mean a few days or weeks. Many new users find that it takes them months to start feeling the benefits of their uninterrupted sleep. Research indicates that you’ll need to use the CPAP machine every night before you’ll begin to see benefits from your CPAP therapy1. Starting CPAP therapy is the perfect example of a marathon, not a sprint.

If your sleep schedule has been off for a long time, sleeping well isn’t something you can change overnight (no pun intended). Altering your sleep routine for the better will take your body a while to get used to.

The good news is that when it does, you will feel so much better.

Compliance is Key

Although getting used to your CPAP therapy may seem like a waste of time and energy in the beginning, don’t give up!

Those who quit therapy will tell you that their Sleep Apnea just gets worse without treatment. Consistency is key and committing fully to your CPAP therapy regimen will benefit you in the long run.

Reasons You Might Feel More Tired After Using Your CPAP

When I first started CPAP therapy in 2017, it took me awhile to get used to the treatment. In the beginning, I felt worse after using my CPAP. I had to adjust to a lot of things:

  • The feeling of pressure on my face and in my throat
  • A change in sleep position to accommodate the bulky mask.
  • The added noise in the room
  • Taking the mask off during the night and not remembering it.

Of all of these, the thing that was the most difficult to overcome was removing the mask during the night. Obviously, if the mask isn’t on, it’s not going to make a difference in how you feel– and you may even feel worse. Other people may feel worse after using their CPAP equipment for many reasons including:

  • Mask Leaks
  • Claustrophobia
  • Changes in Sleeping Position
  • Noise

There’s no denying that Sleep Apnea treatment can cause a person to undergo many changes, and chances are, it’s not going to be comfortable in the beginning. That’s a big reason why you may feel worse after using CPAP. Over time, you can get to a point where you’ll feel comfortable enough to sleep and reap the benefits of using CPAP.

You should also set goals for yourself on how long you aim to wear your mask at night and increase those goals as you go. As time goes on, you will find comfortable sleeping
positions
to accommodate your CPAP devices and come to love the better sleep you are getting.

Throughout the rest of the article, we’ll explore ways to get the most out of your CPAP therapy in order to improve and maybe even expedite results.

Share Your Experience

Reminding yourself of the big picture and your “why” for continuing CPAP therapy is a great way to stay encouraged, and surrounding yourself with a strong support system is a huge part of this. Consider joining an in-person or online support group like CPAPtalk.com. It can also help to talk to your partner about Sleep Apnea, as they can sometimes be a helpful source of encouragement and support.

Practice Make Perfect

Here’s a few ways you can practice getting used to your CPAP equipment:

  • If you’re having a hard time getting used to wearing a mask at night, try wearing it while you’re awake.
  • If you’re just hanging around, watching TV or reading, put on your mask and turn the machine on. The more you experience the air pressure in the CPAP mask, the faster you’ll get used to it.
  • Always make sure your machine is switched on while wearing your mask.
  • Those beginning CPAP therapy also enjoy the “ramp” feature found on many devices. This setting ramps up the air gradually instead of starting out at full pressure.

Talk to Your Physician

Open communication with your doctor about your CPAP therapy experience is so important, especially when you first start out. Each individual and case is different, so be sure to let your doctor know how your experience is going and any issues or concerns you have.

There may be some hidden problems that your physician has seen before and can help solve if you describe your experience to them in detail. Some hidden problems with relatively simple solutions include mask leaks, incorrect air pressure, and mask discomfort. Open communication with your physician could be the difference between feeling better sooner rather than later.

We know that getting used to sleeping with CPAP therapy can be difficult, but it will get easier with time. In the meantime, you can also use products designed specifically to provide comfort for CPAP users. If you don’t know which comfort items you need, we can help you identify them depending on the CPAP problems you’re having.

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References:

1. Weaver, Terri E. et al. Relationship Between Hours of CPAP Use and Achieving Normal Levels of Sleepiness and Daily Functioning Published in the medical journal Sleep in 2007: 711–719. Accessed on October 18, 2018..

Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.

4 Comments

  1. Doris Lindsay Reply

    I have been using my dream cpap machine doe 10 months anddo not feel better I sleep twice as long but am actually more tired than I was before. I don’t have air leaks, i rarely wake up in the middle of the night I have major memory, attention problems and am being for depression wjich I no longer have. I have changes in most I.my medication at different time, so I don’t think that is the problem. My mental health issues have been changed over the last few years. Have tried many different sleep medications including natural and herbal supplements all with negative side effect, still being tired and concentration problems. Please help!

    • Hi Doris,

      I am very sorry to hear that you are struggling with your sleep. Unfortunately, this sounds like something you may need to speak with your doctor about since it does not seem like you are struggling with your CPAP therapy. Your doctor may choose to adjust your pressure, or try to help you pinpoint exactly your struggle is.

  2. John Logan Brown Reply

    I love my CPAP. Embrace it as your best friend. I have used that mentality from the beginning. Positive thoughts while ignoring the inconvenience. I adopted this approach after hearing a few of my friends (before my diagnosis) who said that they were put on CPAP and couldn’t get used to it and discontinued it’s use. Please everybody consider the CPAP as a friend who is going to save your life. My sleep study showed that I experienced about 100 interruptions an hour and that my oxygen level was at 64. I was about 48 at the time of the study and had been a very heavy snorer for about twenty years. I assume that I had not been getting much REM sleep for twenty years. Since day one I have 100% compliant for the past 7 years. But during the first couple of months on CPAP I was twice as exhausted but that eventually went away. I am not a doctor but I presumed that it was because my body was not used to REM sleep. Does that explanation make any sense.

    • Appreciate the comments! I’ve been using my CPAP since 2017, and I love it. When it works, the way I’m able to take on the day far outweighs any discomfort I may experience at night. Like you, I also struggled at the beginning of my therapy, but I pushed through it, and I’m very happy with the results.

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