Techniques to Keep a CPAP Mask on at Night

The American Sleep Apnea Association reports that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective way for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, most often when the tissue of the throat caves in and closes during sleep. A CPAP machine consists of a mask, tubing and a machine that pushes air through your airway passage at a pressure high enough to thwart blockage. The mask is connected to tubing that attaches to the CPAP machine. Having a mask that fits properly and stays on ensures that the appropriate air pressure level is maintained.

Proper Fit

Having a mask that does not fit properly can lead to it falling off during the night. A CPAP mask should be close fitting to prevent air from leaking but should not be so constrictive that it causes pain. Before choosing a mask, try wearing it under the conditions you will be using it. Experiment with a mask’s fit by trying it with a CPAP machine turned on and while you lie down and move from one side to another. If you are having trouble finding a proper-fitting mask, you can have one custom made. As the mask’s user, you need to be comfortable with your mask to get the most out of it.


Sometimes the mask can come off at night without your knowledge. This could be due to irritation from congestion or a runny nose. If you wake up with a stuffy nose, try using a humidifier with your CPAP machine.

Adjustment Period

Initially, wearing a mask can be invasive and claustrophobic. An adjustment period of a few days may be all that is needed as you become more comfortable with it. The American Sleep Apnea Association suggests taking Benadryl or Tylenol PM about an hour before you go to bed to make you drowsy, lessening the chances of waking up during the night. Before taking such medicine, consult with your physician. If you have to, wear the mask just for a few hours at night until you become used to it.

Getting Up at Night

It is common to have to get up in the middle of the night to have to use the bathroom. Getting up requires taking the mask off. It is human nature that you may not feel like going through the trouble of getting your mask refitted during the night. For the sake of convenience, if you have to get up during the night, keep your mask on and simply unhook the tubing at the mask or the machine.