5 Tips to Find a Good Fit for Your CPAP Mask

If you have sleep apnoea, you may need to wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask to keep your airways open while you sleep. If your mask doesn't fit correctly, it may fall off or leak during the night, preventing you from getting the air you need. This could compromise the quality of your sleep, or even lead to death if your brain fails to wake you when your airway closes. These five tips can help you find a good fit for your CPAP mask.

1. Fit Your Mask While Lying Down

The shape of your face changes slightly when you lie down. If you fit your mask while sitting or standing, you might find that it doesn't fit well when you lie down to sleep. Before fitting your mask, get into the position you normally use for sleeping, with the usual number of pillows propping up your head.

2. Obtain the Right Size of Mask

The standard mask size that comes with your CPAP machine may not be a good fit for your face. In particular, children often need smaller masks to fit their smaller faces. If the standard size of mask is too big or too small, ask your doctor or equipment supplier to recommend an alternative mask that is likely to be a better fit for you.

3. Fit the Mask With the CPAP Machine Running

Always fit the mask with the CPAP machine switched on. Having the machine running will allow you to detect any leaks, as you will be able to feel air escaping from loose parts of the mask.

4. Tighten the Straps Gradually

Begin with the straps loose and tighten them a little at a time until the mask stops leaking. The aim is to tighten the mask around the nose just enough to prevent leaks, without making the mask or straps so tight that they leave marks on the skin.

5. Don't Tighten the Mask Too Much

If you're worried about your CPAP mask slipping during the night, your instinct might be to tighten the straps as much as possible. However, tightening the straps too much can distort the mask and cause parts of it to lift away from the face, which allows air to escape. Overly tight straps can also leave red marks on your face or cause bruising or soreness. If you can't achieve a good fit without pulling the straps uncomfortably tight, consider switching to a smaller size.