If you’re not used to sleeping with CPAP equipment, adding new devices to your sleep routine can be a big adjustment—and you may be surprised that you feel more tired after starting CPAP treatment. Even if you’re no longer experiencing classic sleep apnea symptoms after starting sleep therapy, you may be, much to your disappointment, still tired after CPAP.
It might be encouraging to know, though, that it’s common for people with sleep apnea to feel the same (or even worse) right after starting CPAP therapy. You may be wondering, “How long does CPAP take to work?” The short answer is that you are more likely to see results (such as feeling less fatigued) when you prioritize consistency and patience, but it’s different for everyone.
Some of the most important things you can do to ensure successful CPAP treatment is being consistent, building a good support system, and ensuring you like and trust your physician or sleep specialist. It may take a few months, but the good news is that when your CPAP treatment does start working for you, you will feel less tired and better than you have in awhile.
Reasons You Are Still Tired After CPAP Treatment
One study showed it can take three weeks for daytime sleepiness to improve, but some may still feel tired after CPAP for months. When we say CPAP therapy takes time, we don’t just mean a few days or weeks, so make your best effort to adjust to sleep therapy.
When beginning CPAP treatment, you may need to become accustomed to:
- The feeling of pressure on your face and throat
- Changing your sleep position to accommodate the mask
- The new noise in the room, stemming from the CPAP equipment
- Refraining from taking the CPAP mask off overnight
Of all of these, many agree the most difficult to overcome is removing the mask while sleeping. Obviously, if the mask isn’t on, it can’t make a difference in how you feel—and you may even feel worse.
Other people may feel worse after using their CPAP equipment due to:
- CPAP mask leaks
- Waking up with a dry mouth, nose, or gas from swallowed air (this is a normal occurrence called aerophagia)
- Issues with CPAP air pressure, which can lead to a high apnea-hypopnea index (AHI)
You may be asking yourself, “Is it normal to be tired after starting CPAP?” Yes, and many new users find that it takes months to start feeling the benefits of uninterrupted sleep. If your sleep schedule has been off for a long time, sleeping well isn’t something you can change overnight (no pun intended).
On the other hand, if your sleep quality wasn’t poor before beginning CPAP treatment, you may not notice a big difference once you start sleep therapy. Keep in mind that some people with sleep apnea may wake up 15 to 20 times per hour while others may only wake up a few times per hour. If you have a very mild form of sleep apnea and have been largely asymptomatic, you may not notice any improvement throughout treatment. However, leaving your sleep apnea untreated can lead to severe cardiovascular and metabolic conditions as well as other symptoms like daytime sleepiness, frequent overnight urination, teeth grinding, short-term memory issues, and poor focus or concentration.
There’s no denying that sleep apnea treatment can cause a person to experience certain side effects, and chances are, it’s not going to be comfortable in the beginning—your body may simply need time to adjust to CPAP treatment.
How to Get the Most Out of Your CPAP Therapy
Compliance Is Key
One study shows between one-third to over 50 percent of CPAP wearers either quit sleep therapy or never even fill their prescription (partially because they’re still tired after CPAP), but there are several things you can do to make your CPAP experience more comfortable, including:
- Practice wearing your mask during the day
- Limit your evening naps, which may interfere with nighttime sleep
- Lower your caffeine intake
- Use a decongestant for nasal relief
- Routinely clean your CPAP equipment
As with most health conditions, sleep apnea doesn’t resolve itself without treatment, and also like most health conditions, sleep apnea conditions can get worse without treatment.
One way to get the most out of your therapy is to set goals for yourself. To start, aim to wear your mask for a certain amount of hours, incrementally increasing the length of time it’s worn each night. Though it may help to slowly acclimate to wearing your CPAP mask, it’s critical to work your way up to wearing it all night long, since you won’t reap the benefits of the last stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (or REM), if you’ve prematurely removed your mask.
As time goes on, you will discover which sleeping positions feel most comfortable, and though getting used to your CPAP therapy may seem like a challenge at first, don’t give up: CPAP is proven to work.
Share Your Experience
Consider joining an in-person or online support group, or even engaging in comments on blog posts on CPAP.com. (We have a free sleep apnea forum, too, where you can ask questions, get insight, and meet other people with sleep apnea.) It can also help to talk to your partner about sleep apnea, as they can be a helpful source of encouragement and support.
Reminding yourself of the big picture and your “why” for continuing CPAP therapy is a great way to stay encouraged; surrounding yourself with a strong support system matters: studies suggest that some who started CPAP therapy eventually reported symptoms of depression, causing them to give up on CPAP.
If you feel depressed after starting CPAP, share your symptoms with your physician to determine if you could benefit from working with a therapist, as well. A therapist may not only help stave off the symptoms of depression but also help you maintain a more positive outlook on life, increasing the likelihood of sleep therapy compliance.
Practice Makes Perfect
To achieve continuous CPAP compliance, here are a few ways you can practice getting used to your CPAP machine and mask:
- If you’re having a hard time getting used to the mask, try wearing it while you’re awake
- If you’re just watching TV or reading, put on your mask and turn the machine on. The more you experience the air pressure in the CPAP mask, the faster you’ll get used to it
- Always make sure your machine is switched on while wearing your mask
- Try the ramp feature (available on many devices), which gradually increases pressurized air instead of starting your night at full pressure
Use CPAP Accessories
Getting used to sleeping with CPAP therapy can be difficult, but it does get easier with time. If you’re still tired after CPAP therapy, it’s worth investigating solutions that may help. There are plenty of products designed specifically for providing comfort for CPAP users, which can help you limit or eliminate CPAP fatigue. If you don’t know which comfort items could serve you best, we can help you identify nearly-personalized products depending on the type of CPAP issue you’re experiencing.
Top CPAP comfort items—specifically for those who feel worse after starting CPAP treatment—that can enhance your CPAP experience include:
- CPAP Pillow With Specialized Cut-Outs
- Sound Machine (Includes 10 Settings)
- Gravity-Weighted Sleep Mask
- Aromatherapy Starter Pack
- All-In-One Saline Spray
Each of these items are designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, giving your body the rest it needs so you can wake up feeling refreshed. Be aware that you may experience some minor CPAP side effects when starting therapy, which is normal and may require adjustments to your mask size or pressure settings, the use of nasal congestion products, or the addition of comfort items like a heated humidifier. Never adjust your CPAP settings or cease sleep therapy without consulting your sleep care physician first.
Talk to Your Physician
Open communication with your doctor about your CPAP therapy experience is so important, especially when you first start out. Each individual is different, so be sure to let your doctor know how your experience is going and don’t hesitate to communicate any issues or concerns you have.
Some issues—including mask leaks, incorrect air pressure, and mask discomfort—can have relatively simple solutions. Open communication with your physician could be the difference between feeling better sooner rather than later.
Research indicates that the more you actively participate in your treatment, the better your outcomes will be. CPAP therapy is unique in that it requires you, the CPAP wearer, to actively participate in your own treatment which can indirectly control your health outcome and help prevent you from being still tired after CPAP.
Some surgical interventions mean you’re symptom-free after the initial postoperative recovery, but CPAP treatment requires you to utilize your CPAP equipment right after diagnosis and to keep at it every night. Many say that after becoming adjusted to their CPAP machine, the renewed energy and invigorating focus they have far outweighs any minor discomfort they experienced.
If you’re still tired after CPAP, implementing these solutions and products into your sleep care routine can make all the difference.
1. Weaver, Terri E. et al. Relationship Between Hours of CPAP Use and Achieving Normal Levels of Sleepiness and Daily Functioning Published in the medical journal Sleep in 2007: 711–719. Accessed on October 18, 2018..
Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.
If you are using CPAP therapy but still feel tired, there could be several reasons why. It's possible that you haven't been doing the therapy for long enough, you are removing your mask during the night, your pressure needs to be adjusted, or your symptoms are mild.How long does it take for a CPAP to help with fatigue? ›
Conclusions: Results suggest that 3 weeks of therapeutic CPAP significantly reduced fatigue and increased energy in patients with OSA. Therapeutic CPAP significantly reduced daytime sleepiness in patients who reported excessive sleepiness at the onset of treatment.What are signs your CPAP pressure is too high? ›
- Air leaks from your CPAP mask.
- Difficulty exhaling while using your CPAP.
- Bloating, excess gas, or stomach cramps (This is due to aerophagia– the medical term for swallowing air)
- Soreness in the chest or lungs.
- Dry mouth or sore throat even when using a humidifier.
- Dry eyes.
Self-reported energy levels also increased after three weeks of CPAP therapy, with the mean score on the vigor-activity subscale of the Profile of Mood States – Short Form increasing significantly from 14.28 at baseline to 16.52 post-treatment.How do I know if my CPAP pressure needs adjusting? ›
If you consistently experience discomfort during CPAP therapy, or you are not noticing any improvements in your sleep or health, then you probably need to adjust the pressure settings. Persistent fatigue, loud snoring, mask leaks, and difficulty exhaling all indicate suboptimal pressure levels.What are the long term effects of using a CPAP machine? ›
- dry or runny nose.
- sore throat.
- dry mouth.
- dry eyes.
- nasal congestion.
- facial irritation.
- air leaks around the mask.
You wake up enough to take a few breaths, but not enough to remember it the next morning. This cycle repeats itself many times each night, making you feel tired or exhausted in the morning.Can sleep apnea make you tired all day? ›
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include: Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely.How much better do you feel after sleep apnea treatment? ›
You may feel better after one day; you may feel better after three or four. You just need to stick with your CPAP therapy and use your machine every night. Only then will you regain your energy and finally catch up on the sleep you've been missing. Take your CPAP machine with you wherever you go!What is a good average CPAP pressure? ›
The key is to ensure that your CPAP device settings are appropriate for your specific condition. For most people, an appropriate CPAP pressure is between 6 and 14 cmH2O, with an average of 10 cmH2O. Your sleep specialist can help you determine what specific level is right for you.
Notably, IGF-1 stimulates protein synthesis and maintains muscle mass. Our study and others have reported significant increases in IGF-1 in patients adherent to CPAP. Thus, the restoration of the GH axis and increase in IGF-1 in CPAP adherent patients likely contributed to weight gain and potential increase in LBM.What is a good CPAP score? ›
An ideal AHI is fewer than five events per hour. That rate is within the normal range. Some sleep specialists aim for one or two events per hour so you're getting better sleep. If the AHI on the sleep study is high, such as 100 events per hour, even lowering it to 10 events an hour may be a big improvement.Can your body become dependent on a CPAP machine? ›
While the machine itself is not addictive, patients become addicted to the results of regular CPAP use. These results include getting better sleep and feeling more energize and focused. If they stop using CPAP, their sleep apnea symptoms will return, along with drowsiness and lack of concentration.What is considered a lot of hours on a CPAP machine? ›
If you're wondering, “how many hours per night should CPAP be used?” the answer is, for the entire night while you sleep, ideally 7+ hours. CPAP compliance measures how many hours and nights you use your therapy and if you use it often enough for effective treatment.Do CPAP machines make your lungs stronger? ›
However, CPAP is also known to increase lung volume (19). CPAP could therefore also prevent sleep apnea and hypopnea by increasing upper airway stiffness through caudal traction of the trachea (because of an increase in lung volume).What is the pressure needed for CPAP to abolish apneas? ›
Proper titration includes identifying the minimum CPAP level that abolishes obstructive apneas and/or hypopneas, oxyhemoglobin desaturation, respiratory effort–related arousals (RERAs), and snoring in all sleep stages and all sleep positions. The pressure needed is typically 5-20 cm H2 O.How often should a CPAP machine be calibrated? ›
We highly recommend that you take your machine into Feeling Great's CPAP clinic every six months to have it re-calibrated and cleaned by one of our certified CPAP clinicians.Should CPAP machine be higher or lower than bed? ›
CPAP unit should be placed approximately two (2) feet off the floor, sitting on a small shelf or stool. The CPAP unit should never be placed at the same height as the bed. Wipe CPAP unit down at least weekly and remove any dust from filters.What is the downside of using a CPAP machine? ›
Though CPAP machines help prevent the brief breathing interruptions that are the hallmark of sleep apnea, some people find the discomfort and difficulty of falling asleep while wearing a mask too much to bear.What is the downside to CPAP? ›
CPAP masks can cause abrasions, skin allergies or other types of skin irritation. These problems can be so uncomfortable for patients that they cannot wear the mask for a full night. In addition, the straps that are used to hold the mask on can cause similar problems.
 Benefits of starting CPAP treatment include better sleep quality, reduction or elimination of snoring, and less daytime sleepiness. People report better concentration and memory and improved cognitive function. It can also improve pulmonary hypertension and lower blood pressure.What is the best sleeping position for sleep apnea? ›
Side sleeping with your back mostly straight is the best position for sleep apnea sufferers according to the Sleep Better Council. Research shows that sleeping on the left side reduces sleep apnea even more than sleeping on the right.Why do I wake up tired after 8 hours of sleep? ›
Most likely, you're still tired after eight hours of sleep because of these three factors: (1), you don't know your sleep need, (2) you're not taking into account your sleep efficiency, and (3) you carry sleep debt.Why am I tired 2 hours after waking up? ›
Waking up feeling slightly groggy or tired is just part of the human experience. It's called sleep inertia: "The transitional state between sleep and wake, marked by impaired performance … and a desire to return to sleep." The main thing to know about sleep inertia is it is completely normal.Why do I always wake up tired? ›
For most people, feeling tired when you wake up is the result of sleep inertia, which is a natural feeling you experience as you transition between being asleep and awake. This feeling generally dissipates between 15 and 60 minutes after waking, but for some it can last longer.Is sleep apnea a disability? ›
Is Sleep Apnea a Disability? Sleep apnea not considered a disability by the SSA, but sleep apnea can cause other breathing disorders and heart problems, which can be considered disabilities by the SSA.What is the best medication for sleep apnea? ›
What are the different types of sleep apnea medications?
- Edluar (zolpidem tartrate) and.
- Ambien (zolpidem tartrate),
- sedatives such as Xyrem (sodium oxybate), and.
- melatonin receptor agonists such as Hetlioz (tasimelteon).
Does Sleep Apnea Ever Just Disappear? In general, obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that does not go away on its own. This is especially true if you are an adult, as your anatomy tends to remain fixed from adolescence onwards.How often should you be retested for sleep apnea? ›
While there is no set time to repeat a sleep apnea test, many doctors recommend an updated test every 5 years. Returning sleep apnea symptoms, changes in lifestyle or changes in CPAP therapy are good indicators that a new sleep study test is required.How do you deal with sleep apnea and fatigue? ›
- Sleep on your side. ...
- Lose weight. ...
- Seek out insomnia treatments. ...
- Eat an energy-boosting diet. ...
- Avoid alcohol. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Get moving. ...
- Quit smoking.
What temperature should a CPAP tube be? According to ResMed, your CPAP tube temperature should be set between 60-86℉. ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP Machines use a Climate Control system, and its default setting is 81℉.Does CPAP make your stomach big? ›
CPAP users who experience excessive belching, stomach bloating, stomach distension and agonizing gas pains may be suffering from aerophagia. It's the medical term for the phenomenon when air enters the esophagus, goes into the belly and causes bloating.Does sleep apnea cause belly fat? ›
In women, researchers found no association between obstructive sleep apnea and visceral fat accumulation. In women, visceral fat was only associated with body-mass index.Is it OK to use my CPAP without water? ›
Can you use a CPAP without the humidifier or water chamber? CPAP machines are usable without a humidifier or water chamber. The machine will continue to disperse dry air to your mask. If you are in a humid environment, you may find that a humidifier is not necessary.What is a normal oxygen level for someone with sleep apnea? ›
Many patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have intermittent oxygen desaturation associated with periods of apnea or hypopnea. Oxygen saturation levels below 90% are considered harmful. Usually, treatment is directed at correcting the apnea, which will in turn prevent hypoxemia.What is the highest sleep apnea score? ›
From the rating chart here, we see that an index less that 5 is considered normal. For an Apnea-Hypopnea Index from 5 to 15 denotes mild sleep apnea. Fifteen to 30 is moderate, while a greater than 30 is considered severe.How does a CPAP machine know when you are asleep? ›
How does my CPAP machine know when I fall asleep? Your AirSense 10 will know you're asleep no more than three minutes after. That's because the moment you turn on your machine, AutoRamp is looking for three things: 30 breaths of stable breathing (roughly 3 minutes)Can CPAP do more harm than good? ›
For many others, however, CPAP causes more sleep problems than it solves. Even people with moderate or severe sleep apnea can find that they get worse sleep with CPAP than they did before they started using the machine. For most people with mild sleep apnea, CPAP is usually more trouble than it's worth.How long can you live on a CPAP machine? ›
The life expectancy of a CPAP machine differs based on the specific piece of equipment. In general, CPAP machines are used for roughly three to five years.Can I use baby wipes to clean CPAP mask? ›
Can I Use Baby Wipes To Clean My CPAP Mask? Yes. Baby wipes are an affordable and effective solution for regularly cleaning and maintaining your CPAP mask and cushion. Wipes that claim to be unscented will often have a fragrance added, but “fragrance-free” wipes should be safe for those with fragrance allergies.
Ideally, CPAP compliance should take place for as long as the patient is sleeping but, in practice, this occurs in a minority of subjects. Based on several studies, compliance of ≥4 h per night has been considered acceptable.How do I know if my CPAP pressure needs adjusting? ›
If you consistently experience discomfort during CPAP therapy, or you are not noticing any improvements in your sleep or health, then you probably need to adjust the pressure settings. Persistent fatigue, loud snoring, mask leaks, and difficulty exhaling all indicate suboptimal pressure levels.What is the average CPAP usage? ›
Overall, the average duration of CPAP use is approximately five to six hours per night across numerous studies .Why do I feel more tired when I use my CPAP? ›
If you are using CPAP therapy but still feel tired, there could be several reasons why. It's possible that you haven't been doing the therapy for long enough, you are removing your mask during the night, your pressure needs to be adjusted, or your symptoms are mild.Can CPAP make you more tired? ›
It also means it's possible you don't get enough pressure to open your airways. The result: tiredness, headaches, depression during the day. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to take some time to adjust to sleeping with a CPAP mask on your face.What are the long term effects of using a CPAP machine? ›
- dry or runny nose.
- sore throat.
- dry mouth.
- dry eyes.
- nasal congestion.
- facial irritation.
- air leaks around the mask.
Worringly, the use of CPAP was associated with a higher level of adverse events (including four cardiac arrests) than use of oxygen alone. The widespread practice of using CPAP to prevent deterioration and avoid intubation - at least in this patient subgroup - is now clearly questionable.Does CPAP increase deep sleep? ›
CPAP mainly improved daytime symptoms (reduced daytime sleepiness and napping) in the sleep time restorers whereas improvements in sleep quality (increased deep sleep and reduced PSQI) were noted in the non-restorers.How long does it take to feel rested with CPAP? ›
You may feel better after one day; you may feel better after three or four. You just need to stick with your CPAP therapy and use your machine every night. Only then will you regain your energy and finally catch up on the sleep you've been missing.Can sleep apnea make you tired all day? ›
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include: Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely.
Though CPAP machines help prevent the brief breathing interruptions that are the hallmark of sleep apnea, some people find the discomfort and difficulty of falling asleep while wearing a mask too much to bear.Do CPAP machines make your lungs stronger? ›
However, CPAP is also known to increase lung volume (19). CPAP could therefore also prevent sleep apnea and hypopnea by increasing upper airway stiffness through caudal traction of the trachea (because of an increase in lung volume).What is the downside to CPAP? ›
CPAP masks can cause abrasions, skin allergies or other types of skin irritation. These problems can be so uncomfortable for patients that they cannot wear the mask for a full night. In addition, the straps that are used to hold the mask on can cause similar problems.Is 4 hours a night enough on CPAP? ›
Ideally, CPAP compliance should take place for as long as the patient is sleeping but, in practice, this occurs in a minority of subjects. Based on several studies, compliance of ≥4 h per night has been considered acceptable.What is the best position to sleep in with a CPAP machine? ›
Sleeping on your side is one of the best positions for sleep apnea treatment, since it prevents gravity from impacting your airway the way it does when sleeping on your back or stomach. Unfortunately, side sleepers sometimes struggle to find the right CPAP mask.Can CPAP tell if you're asleep? ›
How does my CPAP machine know when I fall asleep? Your AirSense 10 will know you're asleep no more than three minutes after. That's because the moment you turn on your machine, AutoRamp is looking for three things: 30 breaths of stable breathing (roughly 3 minutes)Do you need less sleep with CPAP? ›
In order to feel properly rested and recuperated, most people need 7 to 7 and a half hours of sleep per night. For CPAP users, that means they need 7 or so hours of sleep with their CPAP. Using your CPAP for less than 7 hours means less effective sleep, and ends with you dealing with: Mood problems.Will CPAP help me lose weight? ›
In total, the CPAP-treated group lost more than 26.7 pounds on average versus almost 21 pounds for patients who did not treat their OSA symptoms using CPAP. The group without OSA symptoms lost approximately 19 pounds over 16 weeks.How many events per hour should you have with a CPAP? ›
An ideal AHI is fewer than five events per hour. That rate is within the normal range. Some sleep specialists aim for one or two events per hour so you're getting better sleep. If the AHI on the sleep study is high, such as 100 events per hour, even lowering it to 10 events an hour may be a big improvement.What does sleep apnea tiredness feel like? ›
You wake up enough to take a few breaths, but not enough to remember it the next morning. This cycle repeats itself many times each night, making you feel tired or exhausted in the morning. When you have OSA the apnea is caused by an obstruction or blockage.
Waking up feeling slightly groggy or tired is just part of the human experience. It's called sleep inertia: "The transitional state between sleep and wake, marked by impaired performance … and a desire to return to sleep." The main thing to know about sleep inertia is it is completely normal.Why do I wake up tired after 8 hours of sleep? ›
Most likely, you're still tired after eight hours of sleep because of these three factors: (1), you don't know your sleep need, (2) you're not taking into account your sleep efficiency, and (3) you carry sleep debt.