Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that affects millions of people, about 1 in 4 adults. Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea and leaves many struggling to adjust the mask they must wear every night.
Using a CPAP machine can be very uncomfortable for many. For some, their masks press into the pillow causing the mask to leak, and they’re uncomfortable. That’s why CPAP pillows are so relevant.
CPAP pillows are essential to use if you’re suffering from sleep apnea and required to do CPAP treatment nightly because CPAP pillows help to ensure a good night’s sleep while on the CPAP machine. The CPAP pillow has additional benefits as well, which are mentioned below.
CPAP pillows are designed to accommodate CPAP masks and may also improve CPAP treatment by making it less likely for the patient’s mask to be dislodged while they’re sleeping.
The right pillow during CPAP can improve comfort so patients can sleep and reduce the risk of face mask leaks.
How Does CPAP Work?
For people with sleep apnea, CPAP therapy works by delivering constant pressurized airflow to the sleeper’s airways. The airflow keeps the airway and breathing passages open. This reduces or fully eliminates apnea that leaves the person gasping for air in the middle of the night.
For CPAP therapy to work, it requires a CPAP machine, a CPAP mask, and a tube connecting the machine to the mask.
What is A CPAP Pillow and How Does it Work?
For many patients sleeping with a CPAP mask connected to a tube, this can be challenging. A CPAP pillow helps.
A CPAP pillow is designed with cutouts that align with the shape of the mask and hose. CPAP pillows are made for stomach and side sleepers. CPAP pillows unique design has the following characteristics:
- Irregular shape: They feature side cutouts on both sides to give space for the mask and hose.
- Curved bottom: They often feature a recessed bottom for the patient’s shoulders that helps to keep the neck and shoulders aligned.
- Center indent: The slight dip in the center of the pillow allows the neck to properly align.
- Hose tether: A hose stabilizer is featured on some pillows to help reduce pulls and pressure on the mask through the night.
- Material: It’s made of material that offers additional head and neck support.
Since some CPAP patients have to deal with their mask shifting or leaking because of facial pressure from a regular pillow, the cutouts on the sides of a CPAP pillow allow the mask exhalation ports to stay open.
So, instead of the mask being pushed out of position, the seal will stay intact through the night even if the patient moves around.
CPAP pillows also offer additional support to the head and neck just as regular pillows. Their heights can be adjusted based on the patient, and the sturdy support maintains better alignment, which reduces the instances of neck pain, spinal issues, and also reduces apnea.
The Benefits of CPAP Pillows
Many CPAP patients complain that it’s a challenge to keep their masks from shifting during the night when they’re trying to sleep. This is more prone to happen when they’re changing positions.
With the mask and the hose trying to follow along as their position changes, it’s uncomfortable, and air leaks from the mask. This alone compromises sleep and the effectiveness of continuous airflow, which jeopardizes the entire therapy.
Some of the noted benefits of CPAP pillows include:
1. Minimizes leaks from occurring
Before using CPAP pillows, many patients reported leaking occurring from their masks.
This is because they didn’t have the proper equipment to keep their mask in position as their bodies change positions. With CPAP pillows, this is no longer an issue.
2. Reduces the pressure the mask puts on the face
CPAP pillows help with overall pressure from having the mask on during the night.
The pillow helps everything to just work together as it should. With reduced or little to no pressure, most patients are able to sleep comfortably during the night.
3. Provides the patient head and neck support
CPAP pillows provide an overall good sleep experience for the patients even though they’re using a CPAP machine and in a mask held by a hose.
When changing positions, the patient feels comfortable and has good head and neck support during the night.
The CPAP pillows are also designed so that the height can be adjusted to fit the patient, thus, providing proper support in the right places.
4. Improves alignment of spine and airway
When using CPAP equipment, its important to maintain a good sleeping position. CPAP pillows help to keep the body properly aligned as it should be.
When this happens, the body is more comfortable, there’s no pressure and, there’s relief to pain points. Most importantly, the patient can awake without the feeling that they tossed and turned all night.
Due to all of this, the patient is can breathe clearly through the night.
5. Maximizes the CPAP machines effectiveness
Since the mask is able to stay in place by use of the pillow, the risk of leaking from the mask is minimized.
There’s also better airflow. This maximizes the effectiveness of the CPAP machine and is of benefit to the patient who is in therapy for their sleep condition.
6. Prevents the patient’s back, neck, and side from becoming stiff
CPAP pillows help the patient’s body to be relaxed during the night and prevent stiffness, discomfort, and pain.
7. Patient can change sleeping positions during the night with ease
The patient is able to move freely during the night without risking the ill effects of the CPAP equipment or harm to themselves. The CPAP pillow allows them to switch sides without the risk of losing the mask or shifting the equipment.
CPAP therapy is one of the best solutions for people suffering from sleep apnea, but it’s not always easy to deal with. There are challenges involved with having to sleep with a mask attached to hoses and other equipment.
The CPAP pillow is the perfect remedy for the challenges that come with having to sleep with CPAP equipment. Above all else, they provide proper sleeping posture, comfort, stability, and effective outcome of therapy.