How CPAP Masks Are Affected By Lifestyle & Sleeping Habits
Every CPAP user is different in so many ways – physical face shape, lifestyle choices, sleeping habits, and more. And so, even though almost all CPAP brands boast that they have the perfect fitting masks with the best features, frankly, that is not the case – you will need to find the right type of CPAP mask or model, based on your lifestyle/sleeping habits.
We’ve organized a list of explanations for the most important factors to consider before picking a CPAP mask. For a nice summary of which masks are suitable for what lifestyle needs, check out our CPAP Mask comparison chart.
After reading this guide, you should at least be able to narrow down your choices to just a few masks! If you would like a personalized CPAP mask recommendation, head on over to our CPAP mask finder quiz – after taking a quick and easy survey, we’ll make a personalized mask recommendation, just for you!
If you have any kind of facial hair – whether it be a beard, goatee, or moustache – you run into the risk of CPAP mask leakages because of the uneven surface area. This can potentially lead to further dangers such as eye infections, if left untreated.
However, you don’t have to shave all of your facial hair for the sake of your CPAP therapy. Generally, nasal pillow masks, such as the AirFit P10, work well for CPAP users with facial hair – that is, unless you have very hair nostrils.
If you are a mouth breather, you may want to consider trimming your facial hair a little bit and trying on a full face mask that has a cushion that conforms nicely to the contours of your face and facial hair. The AirTouch F20, with its memory foam cushion, or the ComfortGel Full Face Mask, with its gel cushion, may be good options.
A mask liner can also help reduce the chances of leakages – they are placed in between the mask and the surface of your face, giving an extra layer of seal.
If none of the suggestions above work, as a last resort, you may want to consider shaving your facial hair!
Reading / Watching TV (phone) before bed
Many CPAP users like to read a book or watch TV just before bed. If you are used to watching TV or reading before sleep, you want a CPAP mask with a clear line of vision.
Generally, nasal pillow and nasal masks – like the AirFit P10/AirFit N20 and Respironics Dreamwear nasal mask/nasal pillow mask – are suitable. Some full face masks like the AirTouch F20, which doesn’t have forehead support, or the Amara View, which fits under the nose instead of over it, can also work.
For any CPAP mask model, just look at the product photos and see if there are any features that may obstruct the user’s vision near the eyes/bridge of the nose, like forehead support or headgear straps. If it’s clear and unobstructed around that area, it should be fine for reading or watching TV.
Do you toss and turn when you sleep? Or do you sleep on your side/stomach? You may need to ask your sleeping partner to check at night to see if you have these sleeping habits.
If this sounds like you, you’ll have to pick a mask that is well adapted to movement. You’ll have to read the mask features carefully to see if they’re designed for flexible movement or not. Here is a list of some masks that are equipped with such features:
– ResMed AirFit P10 Nasal Pillow Mask – The nasal pillow easily compress up and down in response to movement to maintain a comfortable seal regardless of your sleeping position.
– F&P Simplus Full Face Mask – The RollFit Seal “rolls” up and down the bridge of your nose, allowing the seal to stay tight even with some movement. It also has a flexible elbow connection that swivels around in circular motions.
– ResMed Mirage Activa Nasal Mask – The name of the mask says it all; the ActiveCell Technology allows more movement during your sleep, with less mask leakage.
– ResMed Airtouch F20 Full Face Mask – The mask’s UltraSoft memory foam conforms to the contours of the user’s face, even if they shift during sleep.
– F&P Opus 360 Nasal Pillow Mask – This mask has a 360 degree pivotal ball and socket elbow connection which allows for more movement during sleep.
Last of all, especially if you’re a stomach/side sleeper, you may benefit from a CPAP pillow. This specially designed pillow help prevent red marks and irritation, and minimizes the chance of air leakages. The pillows usually have cut outs so that the mask exhalation ports aren’t obstructed and so that the CPAP user can sleep in several different positions.
Do you breathe with your mouth during sleep, and/or do you have allergies that cause nasal congestion? If you answered yes, you will need to buy a full face CPAP mask, since air would leak through your mouth during therapy with a nasal or nasal pillow CPAP mask.
However, if you require a nasal or nasal pillow mask for some reason (for example, you may find a full face mask uncomfortable or claustrophobic), then you may want to use a CPAP chin strap. This strap stops air from leaking out your mouth during therapy, so that you can breathe naturally through your nose instead.
If you feel claustrophobic easily, our advice from the ‘Reading / Watching TV’ section also applies – find a mask that doesn’t obstruct your view or cover your face with too many straps!
Generally, people find nasal pillow or nasal masks less claustrophobic to wear, since there is minimal contact with the face – with the exception of masks like the ComfortGel Blue nasal mask, which has forehead straps. However, there are full face masks that are suitable for claustrophobic users too – like the AirTouch F20, which has an unobstructed line of sight, and a soft memory foam cushion that doesn’t stick to the skin.
Small and Wide Faces
If you have a face shape/size that is noticeably smaller or wider than most people, you may have to choose your CPAP mask sizes carefully.
If you’re unsure whether you have a small/wide face, head on over to our CPAP mask sizing guide page, where we’ve set up a list of printable sizing guides for most CPAP mask models on the market. You can print these out and put them against your face to get a fairly accurate measure of what size you need. Alternatively, nasal fit packs/nasal pillow fit packs are great, because the package comes with a variety of sizes that you can try out.
If you have a small face, consider those masks which offer extra small or petite sizes – such as the Comfortgel Blue nasal mask, which offers a petite size. The ResMed “For Her” series masks usually offer smaller sizes too. On the other hand, if you have a wide face, go for models that offer ‘wide’ sizes – such as the Dreamwear Nasal fit pack that offers a medium-wide size.
Designed For Her
The CPAP masks that are designed for women are usually not that different from the not-for-her versions. The main differences that we observed were:
– Size: the masks that are designed for women usually offer a XS/petite sizing option
– Color: the “For Her” versions are usually pink or embellished with floral designs.
We don’t think that this should be a major factor when you decide what CPAP mask is best suited to your needs, unless you have a small face, or you really, really like pink/floral designs.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what masks are and are not suitable for you. For more information, check out our other blogs on CPAP masks! Feel free to message us if you have any questions, or to drop a comment below.