Take off the CPAP nasal pillows in my sleep

by Mrs. Bobie Smith
(Lenoir, North Carolina)

I have had great difficulty in fitting for a CPAP mask and am now using nasal pillows. I have much difficulty with getting into a comfortable position AND KEEP THE PILLOWS in place.

Often I wake up and find that the nasal pillows and tubing are lying in the floor and I have taken them off during the night. I am SOOOOO very tired. I have not yet been able to use the CPAP more than about 3 hours a night.

Do you have any great words of wisdom to help me? Bobbie Smith


Dear Bobie,

Sounds like most of us when beginning CPAP. There are probably a few people out there who put their first mask on and everything went fine from then on, but I'll bet not many.

It's fairly normal to take the CPAP mask or nasal pillows off in the early stages. Not everyone does it, but quite a few.

I think its something that you overcome after a period of time. You should persevere and put the nasal pillows back on and go back to sleep. If it continues to happen over a longer period of time you should contact your sleep doctor.

Some troubleshooting questions:

  • Are you using a ramp at all? If so, what are the starting pressures? And what's the ramp time? Do the leaks start about the time the pressure start to get close to your prescribed pressure?

  • Is the weight of the hose pulling at the mask? If so, a hose hanging system might do wonders for you.

  • Have you tried using KY Jelly, or Ayr gell around the nostrils? These things help seal the pillows against the nostrils for those of us using nasal pillows masks.

  • A lot of people find they really can't fit any mask while still sitting up even if they are in bed. Have you tried lying down to fit the mask?

    If you can't reach the switch without sitting up, could your hubby turn your machine on after you've tried fitting the mask lying in your natural sleeping position for at least a couple of nights?

If you have troubles fitting the nasal pillows, try adjusting the straps very loose (laying down) and tighten in very small increments. The top strap may end up a little tighter than the bottom but side-to-side the straps should be pretty even.

Other advice for nasal pillows fitting:
  • a gentle pull on your lip to seat the pillows,

  • roll the barrel out/forward and then back a bit,

  • a little saline gel on the edge of your nostrils before putting on the mask.

Bobie, hang in there. Many of us have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to find the mask that works for us. We have spent many a sleepless night getting used to the mask and the machine.

Some of us had pre CPAP symptoms so bad we would do anything to make it work. Be thankful you have the mask and machine and a chance to preserve your health.

Most of all, be kind to yourself and keep trying. You can make it work.

Good luck.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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