Are you looking for a BiPAP (Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure) machine as an alternative to standard CPAP therapy? BiPAPs tend to cost a bit more than CPAPs, which can make the process of selecting one a tricky task, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover 100% of the cost.
And at $1639, the Philips Respironics DreamStation BiPAP® Auto Machine is the Cadillac of BiPAP machines—high-end, quiet and elegant, with a sleek design and an array of modern comfort features and user-friendly options. But is it worth the money? Does it deliver quality apnea therapy to users who need auto-adjusted bi-level breathing?
Verified CPAP.com customers think so. They report that the DreamStation BiPAP® Auto Machine is “the quietest, simplest BiPAP machine I’ve ever used, and I have used many,” that it’s the “best machine I ever used, so silent and smart, I also loved the smartphone app,” and that it “works great helps me sleep longer.”
If you’re looking for an impressively quiet, auto-adjusting BiPAP with advanced features and data tracking, you may love this bi-level therapy unit by Philips Respironics. Upgraded features make it a popular choice with users who like to have access to advanced sleep and apnea data on their smartphones, as well as those who are noise-sensitive and need a quiet room to get a good night’s rest.
Is the DreamStation BiPAP® Auto a good apnea therapy choice for your everyday needs? Read on to learn more about its features to find out.
Auto-Adjusting, Bi-level Breathing That’s Comfortable to Use
Apnea patients who are uncomfortable with the consistent or high air pressure levels of traditional CPAP therapy often respond better to bi-level machines like the DreamStation; exhaling against a lower pressure can help you feel like you’re breathing naturally, without assistance.
This particular BiPAP model boasts additional pressure-related comfort features that help it stand out from competitors:
Auto-adjusting levels. The DreamStation BiPAP® Auto delivers bi-level therapy, meaning it’s set to deliver you a higher pressure for inhalation and a lower pressure for exhalation. However, the auto-adjustment feature enables the DreamStation to go a step further, increasing pressure only when it’s needed—which enables more natural breathing throughout the night. How this works: the DreamStation monitors your breathing on a breath-by-breath basis.
Air pressure stays at the lower pressure setting until you have an apnea or hypopnea event that triggers the machine to deliver the higher pressure. Once the event is over, the DreamStation returns to a lower pressure. You never need to exhale against a higher-than-necessary pressure, which makes for a more comfortable, natural sleep.
SmartRamp. Philips Respironics saw an opportunity to make the ramp function more comfortable for users. Unlike traditional ramp, which increases pressure constantly over a set amount of time, SmartRamp monitors the user and increases therapy pressure only if an event occurs. While SmartRamp is on, if you experience a breathing event that requires the lowest pressure of your BiPAP® range, the ramp function will conclude.
However, you can still choose the traditional ramp with this machine if you prefer it. (Note, your BiPAP® therapy range must be greater than 4 cm H2O in order for ramp to be used).
Bi-Flex pressure relief. Bi-level machines can sometimes have an awkward, abrupt transition between the high and low air pressures, almost as if a switch has been flipped. In response, Philips Respironics equipped the DreamStation with a system that allows for a gentler pressure transition: Bi-Flex pressure relief. This feature eases the transition between inhalation and exhalation, allowing for a more natural breathing pattern.
Optional, Dishwasher-Safe Heated Humidifier
A number of CPAPs, APAPs, and BiPAPs offer heated humidifiers to help increase therapy comfort, but they differ in their ease of use. Some are even built-in, meaning they can’t easily be removed for cleaning.
The DreamStation BiPAP® Auto comes with an optional humidifier that’s integrated into the system but easily removable—and dishwasher-safe. Simply detach the humidification chamber from the enclosure at the back of the BiPAP machine and wash it on the top rack of your dishwasher to keep it sanitary and deposit-free.
Other features of the DreamStation humidification system include:
- A fixed heat setting of 0 to 5
- Optional adaptive mode, which monitors ambient humidity and adjusts heat as needed (which reduces condensation buildup in your tubing, also known as “rainout”)
- Slim-style, 15mm heated tube that integrates with no fuss; plug it into the humidifier and the machine automatically adjusts to the 15mm setting, ensuring perfect air pressure and humidification. This tubing—great for travel due to its slimmer size—also works without the humidifier, giving you an additional option.
Sleek, Modern Design—A Good-Looking BiPAP
With a tidy footprint of about 8” x 6” x 3” (without the humidifier), the dimensions of this machine are compact, and the weight (about 3 pounds) puts it on the lighter side for an everyday BiPAP, making it easy to move and adjust, or even to use for travel, if needed.
Design-conscious users who prefer a nicer-looking apnea machine on their bedside tables will also appreciate the aesthetics of the DreamStation BiPAP®. The elegant white design and rounded corners make this machine look distinctly modern, even futuristic. With its digital display dial, some visitors might even mistake it for a bedside radio or music streaming device.
The DreamStation BiPAP®’s functions and options are modern as well, with a front-facing color display and navigation dial you can turn and press to navigate menus and settings. There’s no fumbling the dark to operate a finicky touchscreen; the large dial makes clumsy nighttime adjustments easy, even when you’re drowsy or half asleep.
This BiPAP also features an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the display brightness according to ambient light levels—great news for anyone with sensitivity to room light. This machine won’t be bright enough to make your eyes water, nor will its blue light be intense enough to trigger your brain to wake up and stay awake.
Advanced Features, Plus Data Tracking You Can Check from Your Mobile Device
Perhaps the big selling point of the Philips Respironics DreamStation BiPAP® Auto Machine is the inclusion of advanced features and data tracking to help you monitor the effectiveness of your therapy. These handy features include:
Advanced Data Displayed. On-screen data such as AHI, Periodic Breathing, Leak Rate, and Therapy Hours make it easy to see at a glance whether your therapy is working.
Auto On/Off. The machine can tell if you’re wearing your mask and will turn the therapy on and off automatically. With this feature, you don’t have to worry about falling asleep before pressing the “on” button or rushing off to work and forgetting your machine in the “on” mode all day.
Bluetooth Connectivity. Built-in Bluetooth allows your BiPAP machine to talk directly to the DreamMapper app, compatible with iOS and Android devices. Users of newer model iPhones and iPads or Android phones and tablets can track and analyze their therapy data from anywhere.
Mask Fit Check. A display will tell you if you have an improper fit that prevents a firm seal. This feature is a big help to new users or anyone getting used to a new style of mask.
Regular Alerts and Reminders. Every month, your BiPAP will display a reminder to change your filters. This reminder helps keep you up-to-date with cleaning and re-orders, so your therapy will stay effective and you’ll be less likely to miss a day or fall behind on compliance.
Considerations (Possible Drawbacks)
What are some possible downsides to using the DreamStation BiPAP? We looked through user reviews, customer service feedback, and the manufacturer’s list of features to come up with the following things to consider:
Not everyone likes the Auto on/off feature. According to one reviewer, the auto on feature works well, but the machine never truly shuts off when you’re done using it. You can turn the blower off, but the machine stays on all day. If you’re trying to conserve power, this may be something to consider.
No mask alert. Although this BiPAP comes with a Mask Check function that helps you seat your mask properly, the machine doesn’t alert users to a mid-therapy mask leak. If you’re a restless sleeper and pull your mask off or knock it askew, there will be no beeping sound or screen display to notify you of the disruption. Users who toss and turn, thrash, or sleepwalk may miss this option.
Proprietary accessories only. DreamStation machines need to be used with DreamStation filters and accessories. Other machine accessories, even those made by Respironics, are not compatible. While this is a good machine, it’s not a mix-and-match scenario. If you buy DreamStation, you’ll need to buy DreamStation-compatible accessories too.
Is the Philips Respironics DreamStation worth it? Users seem to like it and especially appreciate the data tracking app and the quiet sound. This model compares favorably with BiPAPs, and many customers find it better-looking. But perhaps the best bonus is that the Philips Respironics offers a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for this model. Compared to some CPAPs and BiPAPs, which offer a year, six months, or no warranty at all, this is a definite plus.
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.