Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) machines have gotten a really bad rap for years. It is probably deserved. PAP machines were first available for purchase in the late 1980's. They honestly resembled vacuum cleaners in both size, and the noise they generated. There were few masks that fit anyone well, but they'd fit everybody if you strapped them tight enough! It is amazing anyone used them. Modern PAP machines are quite different. They are quiet. There are hundreds of masks. There are different variants of PAP including CPAP, BIPAP, APAP, ASV and AVAPS. It can be confusing and intimidating.
I'm sure you have heard the stories about being a "new person," and feeling ten years younger once you start PAP. There are not a lot of stories like this about "alternative" treatments for sleep apnea, and it is for one reason. PAP is the only treatment that is guaranteed to return your breathing to normal. Nothing else does.
Picking a Machine
For people initially starting PAP we recommend starting with an Auto-titrating Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machine. This device monitors every breath you take and adjusts the pressure you need automatically. We believe APAPs are better than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines that deliver one fixed pressure all the time. APAPs get the job done with less pressure and are therefore more comfortable. Another secret - you can turn APAPs into CPAPs but not vice-cersa.
BIPAP, ASV and AVAPS are more advanced PAP machines usually for people with heart or lung disease. You should be under the direction of a sleep specialist before using those PAPs.
Our site used to sell sleep equipment. We don't anymore because we cannot compete with the pricing offered at other sites. The Phillips Respironics Dreamstation is available at CPAP.com for $399. You can get it with a nasal mask for $449. This is a fantastic option for treating most sleep apnea.
Picking a Mask
In terms of picking a mask, we recommend picking the mask that appears most comfortable. Don't worry about covering your mouth. While everyone with sleep apnea opens their mouth at night, most people will learn to breathe through their nose once they are treated with PAP. Using treatments for chronic nasal decongestion is a good idea if you have chronic nasal congestion. Don't worry about being a restless sleeper. You will sleep more peacefully once you use PAP. The Bleep Dreamport is the most minimal mask on the market and is available on our site.
Once you get your PAP we recommend getting used to it by giving yourself brief nightly exposure. Every night when you are in bed going to sleep put the APAP on and keep it on at least 30 minutes. If you are still awake and it is bothering you, take it off, go to sleep, and put it on the next night for 30 minutes. Do this until you learn to fall asleep with it on. This usually happens in the first month of use. If you are able to fall asleep with it on, but it bothers you when you wake up in the middle of the night, take it off and go to sleep. The next night put it on again.
Once you are able to wear it for 4 hours, we expect you to feel better. The goal is to get you to wear it the entire time you are sleeping. It takes time to get there. Remember - PAP is the only treatment that will return your breathing to normal. It is ok to take a few months to get used to it.
The APAP not only treats you - it also monitors you. Usage data can be transmitted by cellular modem so we can monitor your progress anywhere there is a cell phone signal.
Want someone to walk you through the process of starting PAP? You do not have to do it alone. Click here to enlist the help of one of our PAP coaches!