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.

Before you go today, you might want to try signing up for our newsletter! Stay in touch with the latest CPAP therapy news, discounts, and deals! As a newsletter subscriber, you’ll never miss a sale!

 

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.

24 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.

  3. Dr. Matt Curley Reply

    I really wish they would require people to be licensed to write this garbage, there is much more to it than what you wrote here and it steers people in the WRONG direction. Have you ever heard of respiratory alkalosis? Their settings could be too high. Please refrain from writing medical articles until you have the schooling to back what you’ve written.

    • Hi Dr. Matt, you’re absolutely correct! We mentioned just a few common struggles that newly diagnosed patients have. You’ll also notice that in this particular post we also mentioned that it is very important for patients to have open communication with their doctors regarding their struggles. We also mentioned this: https://www.cpap.com/editorial-ethics.
      Would you be interested in providing content for the blog?

      If so, please send an e-mail to cpap@cpap.com. Please mark the e-mail attention Carol M. and include your contact information and we will have reach out to you directly.

      Thank you for your feedback and I hope you have a wonderful day!

    • I read these articles because I have a CPAP machine and feel worse good mornings after I manage to keep my machine on the recommended time. I felt compelled to reply to you because you come off extremely arrogant because you are an MD. My wife has had medical issues for over 14 years and I have dealt with specialists from neurosurgeons to anesthesiologist that specialize in pain management and every other specialists in between you can think of. There are so many of these so-called experts that I end up correcting and have saved my wife’s life on more than one occasion keeping a doctor from making a huge mistake because he didn’t take the time to read through her file or even just her chart. I have met so many doctors that are book smart but have not one ounce of Common Sense and I are either too arrogant or too lazy to actually look up something they don’t know or understand. All of her problems started with a misdiagnosis when the answer was right on the bottom of the MRI report. We went to no less than 10 different specialists with ten different misdiagnosis until we looked at the bottom of the MRI report which mentioned Chiari malformation as an afterthought. It wasn’t until we looked up the symptoms and match them up to what was going on with my wife before we figured out what can separate specialists either couldn’t or couldn’t be bothered to find. So get off your high horse. Your medical degree makes you less human in my eyes

  4. I have only been using it for a month and have gone through 4 masks. I was told that I’m lucky since I don’t need a full face. This latest mask has a very soft nose pillow and an external filter on the hose and is very quiet! Fisher&Paykel Pilairo Q. I will take my mask off about 2 times a week during sleep and my face broke out really bad, but talking with the respiratory therapist helps to find things that may help. I want to get healthy and improve my life.

    • Hi Vj, I applause you for sticking with your CPAP Therapy even though you have had to switch masks multiple times. I would encourage you to stay on the path to healthiness by continuing your therapy. If you find yourself needing assistance with selecting a mask, or just have a question, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  5. Found this site while searching for information. Been on CPAP for 4 weeks. Total VOODOO medicine from the witchdoctor healthcare community. No affect or improvement in my daytime sleepiness. Doc says I need to use it longer. Won’t say when I’ll see improvement.

    No wonder the US has the highest health care costs in the world. Too many folks practicing quack medicine. Turned the machine back in today. Don’t fall for the bill of goods they are selling. Its nuts!

    • Hi James, I am sorry that you were not able to receive any relief using your CPAP Therapy. I totally understand that how frustrating it is when being told that using CPAP Therapy will help you get a good night’s sleep only to find that you are having the same sleepiness. Keep in mind that for many CPAP users, it takes longer than one month of using the machine in order to see results. Unfortunately, much like your doctor, how long it will take for you to realize improvement is not known since each individual person is different.

      Also, when you first start using the machine, you may find that you are not seeing improvements because you may need to try a different mask, or your settings may need to be adjusted to your comfort level. CPAP Therapy, has indeed changed many lives and I hope that at some point you will reconsider and try giving CPAP Therapy another try.

      If ever you have any 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!

  6. Hello,
    I’ve been using CPAP nightly for about six hours for fourteen months. My fatigue is so severe that I’m barely able to function. I am an otherwise healthy person, no heart/lung issues, diabetes or any other serious disease. I went to see a cardiologist to make sure it wasn’t my heart, it isn’t, That cardiologist said that CPAP therapy doesn’t help everyone. My sleep doctor/pulmonologist said the same and gave me a prescription for Modafanil, which I won’t take. Please help!

    • Hi K, I am very sorry to hear that your CPAP Therapy does not seem to be benefiting you. Have you spoken with your doctor about possible setting changes to your CPAP machine? It could be that you are not receiving enough pressure. Also if you are not currently receiving your therapy from an Auto-Titrating machne, you may want to consider this option. This is a machine that is set to a high pressure and a low pressure and your pressure changes to what you need on a breath-by-breath basis.

      Keep in mind that using your CPAP machine in conjunction with a mask that works well for you, is key. If you are finding your current mask uncomfortable, you may need to change your mask. Otherwise, I would encourage you to continue working with your doctor about the way you are feeling and any symptoms that arise. Be sure to express to your doctor that you have no interest in taking the Modafanil, this way your doctor will continue working with you to help resolve your concerns with feeling severely fatigue.

      If you would like to speak with us regarding setting adjustments, options for machines/masks, or anything else please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      We wish you the best!

  7. Hi,
    I’ve only been using CPAP therapy for a couple of weeks. I use a nose pillow with chinstrap to keep my mouth closed. I was able to go 7-10 hours right from the start. However, I am suffering terribly for a dry stuffed nose constantly. The cpap is the only thing that unclogs my nose. I tried full face masks but I’m way too claustrophobic. Does the dry stuffy nose eventually go away??

    • Hey Cathy, i’m sorry about the dry, stuffed nose that you are experiencing. Dry nose is a common side effect when using CPAP Therapy. Are you currently using a humidifier? If not, you may try adding one and if you are currently using a humidifier, please try turning it to a higher setting. Also, a Nose Lubricant may provide some relief as well.

      The link below will provide additional information. Please feel free to contact us directly with further questions, or concerns at: 1-800-356-5221.

      https://www.cpap.com/cpap-faq/Common-Side-Effects

      Have a great day!

  8. Marilyn Schmidt Reply

    I have been using my CPAP for 2 1/2 years. It doesn’t help me. I’ve had at least four inpatient sleep studies and two or three at home. I have tried many masks and I just really think it doesn’t work for me. My doctor has been diligent in helping me with pressure etc. I just don’t think it’s going to work for me. I’m still tired during the day sometimes I think more. Are there some patients that it really doesn’t work for? Is there some rare alternative treatment? Thank you. Marilyn

    • Hi Marilyn, CPAP Therapy, does not necessarily improve sleep quality for all patients. Have you tracked your sleep therapy data to confirm if your AHI is less than 5? After, using the CPAP for 2 1/2 years, you should actually see a noticeable difference. I would encourage you to continue working with your doctor directly for setting adjustments. Also, if you are not currently using an Auto CPAP machine (a machine that is set to a high pressure and a low pressure and the pressure changes on a breath by breath basis to what you need), you may consider upgrading your machine to see if this helps.

      There are some surgical procedures for Sleep Apnea, that you may benefit from. Please speak with your doctor to confirm what option would best fit your need.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221 with any further questions, or concerns.

      Have a great day!

  9. I have been on a c-pap / bi-pap since early December 2018, I’ve been a faithful user every night since I’ve started it. My issue and I’m not sure about this is memory problems! That started happening in mid February. My numbers fluctuate between low 3’s to mid 7’s I’m not as tired in the afternoons like I was before it’s these nagging memory issues. Like not being able to pull out the right word or remember something simple as the word blister? Also it may be due to my anxiety disorder of late. Nothing in this world is easy to figure out. The doctors adjusted my levels and I use the ramp option. I wish this would work itself out. Right away my mind runs to something horrible. But I guess I’m just a human searching for betterment? Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Dmzabo, my apologies for the delayed response. Thank you for reading our article. I would encourage you to speak with your doctor about your memory loss, even though your settings have been adjusted, they may need further adjustments.

      I have not located any information that supports memory loss due to the use of a CPAP Machine. Actually, to the contrary, CPAP Therapy, is known to improve memory for those who reported incognitivity prior to using the Therapy.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221 with further questions, or concerns.

      We wish you the best!

  10. Kenneth Lee Zahn Reply

    I have used C Pap For 20 years or in about They give me this machine [Air Sense 10 C PAP] My other C Pap Was old and they couldn’t send a print out to the doctor. I put the mask on about 9:30 PM usually with in 2 to 3 hours I wake up with my chest tight after a while I’ll go back to sleep after a few hours I’m awake with the same feeling. But when I get up after the second time when I look at the usage meter It says I only used it for 2 to 3 hours. I get my old one out I’m good for 4 to 5 hours with usually not waking up I’m not good and rested but I’m not no where as tired as with this new C PAP .

    • Hey Kenneth, i’m very sorry to hear that you are not getting the rest that you need with your new machine. It has been our experience that when switching from an older machine to the AirSense 10, the quality of sleep improves. I’m sad to hear that your experience has been the opposite.

      If you haven’t already, please confirm if the settings on your old CPAP machine are the same as on the new one. If you need assistance with adjusting, or even confirming your settings, 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!

  11. I am struggling with my machine daily! I feel like I am getting too much air-gas , bloating , burping,etc.
    My machine is set on 6 -the lowest setting! I have had several surgeries to help w sleep apnea. Should I change the ramp time? Right now it is at 20 minutes. I have the ResMed Airsense 10. I am going to try a new machine -mine has been dropped too many times & I travel alot! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! I have tried everything and things went from good to worse? I CAN NOT FUNCTION W terrible sleep. My numbers went from 5 events per hour to 19 ???????????? For now I will try the new machine and then if that doesn’t work I will go off of it.

    • Hi Lynn, it sounds like you are having a difficult time with your CPAP therapy, I am so sorry. You are most likely suffering from what is called Aerophagia, which means swallowing too much air.

      Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer as to what can be done to relieve you of the symptoms that you are experiencing. There are however, some trial and error options.

      For starters, you can speak with your doctor about the symptoms that you are having. The doctor may make a decision to lower your pressure even further as the minimum is 4, or if you aren’t currently using an APAP, (auto-adjusting CPAP)the doctor, may have you consider switching to one.

      Some patients are able to receive a little relief by changing their sleep positions. It is suggested that when possible, lay in a position that allows your chin to remain above your torso.

      Also, you may try changing your normal sleep pattern. You can try laying on your left side, rotating to the right side, incline with pillows, or even lay flat.

      If you would like to speak with us further, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      We wish you the best!

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