When it comes to starting CPAP therapy, one of the biggest challenges for many individuals is adapting to the treatment system itself. While a CPAP machine is designed to help you get a better night’s rest by stopping sleep apnea episodes, it all too often causes trouble sleeping!
Most often, these sleep troubles are the result of the noise produced by the therapy device itself, as well as the discomfort that can occur as users adjust to wearing a CPAP mask.
You shouldn’t have to worry about your CPAP treatment keeping you up at night due to an uncomfortable mask. Nor should you suffer with a poor mask fit that keeps you from getting the right level of air pressure. This won’t just keep you from sleeping well — it will also undermine the effectiveness of your treatment.
With ResMed’s new AirTouch F20 mask series, however, those uncomfortable, restless nights can become a thing of the past. Here is a closer look at how these masks will transform your CPAP therapy.
Common CPAP Mask Struggles
For many individuals undergoing CPAP therapy, adapting to wearing a mask through the entire night is often the greatest challenge. Leaving a mask over your face while you sleep can create a claustrophobic sensation, which can result in feelings of anxiety that make it harder to fall asleep.
When combined with the slight physical discomfort that can occur while wearing a CPAP mask, it should hardly be surprising that many struggle falling asleep after they begin treatment, simply because they have never worn a mask before.
In an article for Verywell Health, Brandon Peters, MD, notes that a few simple exercises can help those who are dealing with feelings of mask-related claustrophobia:
“Ease yourself into the mask itself. If you have claustrophobia, you may want to simply hold it up to your nose (or nose and mouth) with the machine off. If this makes you feel anxious, try to take slow and deep breaths. If necessary, simply pull the mask back off. Try to extend the amount of time you hold it to your face gradually, letting the anxiety dissipate as necessary. When you are ready, apply the headgear straps that hold the mask in place. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply until you feel comfortable.”
Once you are used to the sensation of wearing a CPAP mask, the next step is to connect the mask to the tubing and machine, and then turn the machine on. Practicing breathing while the device is operating will help you get used to the airflow pressure and hopefully reduce concerns regarding mask use.
Performing this exercise while doing something relaxing, such as reading or watching TV, will further ease feelings of anxiety that may come from wearing a CPAP mask by helping you associate wearing the mask with calming activities. This will also reduce the likelihood that you unconsciously remove the mask while you are sleeping.
The Right Fit
Many who struggle to adapt to a CPAP mask may not feel any anxiety — just notable physical discomfort. More often than not, these troubles stem from improper mask fit, which can negatively affect both comfort levels and the overall quality of your treatment.
Your CPAP mask and style should conform to your face shape and head size. Masks are not “one size fits all,” which is why there are many different styles and sizes available. The way you breathe and even move around as you sleep will also play a role in which type of mask will generally be the best fit for you.
For example, full face masks are recommended for those who breathe through their mouth while sleeping. The straps that hold these masks in place provide added stability, which also makes them a good choice for people who move around during their sleep.
On the other end of the spectrum are nasal pillows, which are much smaller and only provide air through the nostrils. These nasal pillows are sometimes recommended for those who might read or wear glasses before going to bed, as they provide less of an obstruction. However, nasal pillows are usually not recommended for individuals who sleep on their side.
As the Mayo Clinic notes, “Most masks come in different sizes. Just because you're a certain size in one mask doesn't mean you'll be the same size in another. CPAP masks are usually adjustable.
“Ask your doctor or CPAP supplier to show you how to adjust your mask to get the best fit. Manufacturer product instructions also can help show you how to do this. A properly fitting mask shouldn't be uncomfortable or cause pain.”
Most doctors recommend that patients select the smallest mask that will fit comfortably and provide adequate air pressure.
Avoiding Mask Problems
If your mask doesn’t fit properly, you open yourself up to several potential treatment problems. A poorly-fitting mask is the top cause behind excessive air leaks during treatment. If you use a mask that doesn’t fit like it should, you will likely experience a dry, stuffy nose.
These leaks can also irritate the skin, while excess pressure caused by over-tightening the mask straps could even lead to pressure sores. Depending on the placement of the mask, leaking air could blow into the eyes, causing irritation and dryness.
However, the biggest issue that stems from a bad fit is the fact that you won’t be receiving the air pressure needed to maintain quality sleep during the night. When your CPAP device is unable to deliver the air pressure you need, it will fail to prevent or mitigate sleep apnea episodes.
Essentially, the money that you are paying to relieve your condition, improve sleep quality, and avoid the long-term consequences of sleep apnea will be going to waste.
Because of this, it is essential that you coordinate with your healthcare provider to determine which mask type and size is the best option for you. Many modern CPAP devices also have a mask fit check, which runs a 40-second test to identify potential leaks from your mask system so you can make needed adjustments.
How the AirTouch F20 Changes Improves the Mask Experience
While the aforementioned factors will make a big difference in your ability to comfortably wear a CPAP therapy mask, there is no denying that the design of the mask itself can make a big difference. This is where the ResMed AirTouch F20 offers a distinct advantage for those hoping to find a more comfortable solution for their CPAP treatment. This full face mask has several attributes that help it stand out from the rest.
- Comfort: A key difference in the AirTouch F20’s design is the use of a proprietary memory foam cushion known as UltraSoft. The use of memory foam allows the mask to better conform to an individual’s facial contours. The soft foam ensures a comfortable, lightweight fit when the mask is in use, while also sealing off potential air leaks. Breathability is key for the AirTouch F20’s seal, as this provides comfortable and effective performance even when higher air pressure is needed. Comfort is further enhanced by a soft, flexible frame and a plush headgear, which ensures a stable fit. The AirTouch F20 For Her helps female patients get better care by offering smaller mask sizes that are better suited for women. The AirTouch F20 also makes use of ResMed’s QuietAir diffuser vent. This unique venting system allows for gentler, quieter dispersion of exhaled air, making it easier for you and your partner to sleep. The customized fit also minimizes the skin irritation and facial markings that can sometimes occur when using other CPAP masks, ensuring that your therapy won’t affect how you look during the day.
- Adaptability: The modular frame design of the AirTouch F20 makes it easy to adapt to the needs of different patients. For example, the UltraSoft memory foam can be replaced with the InfinitySeal cushions of the AirFit 20 if they will better serve your treatment needs. Fitting the AirTouch F20 is also relatively easy. The mask should be positioned with the top portion of the mask cushion resting on the top of your nasal bridge. This should allow the bottom of the headgear to sit just above the neck. Upper straps and lower straps can be quickly adjusted using the tabs on the two sections of the headgear. This makes it much easier for patients to find and “lock in” to the right fit. Magnetic clips hold the straps in place, while the mask system’s quick-release elbow allows users to rapidly disconnect or reconnect the tubing if they need to get up during the night.
- Cushion Care: Cleaning is also easier with the AirTouch F20 than with many other CPAP therapy masks. Each day, after disassembling the mask, patients need only wipe the mask cushion using a non-alcoholic wipe. The mask cushion should actually be kept away from all liquids so that it remains dry at all times. Don’t use domestic cleaners or wet wipes, as this could damage the memory foam materials. The cushion should also be kept out of direct sunlight. When signs of deterioration pop up, it’s time to dispose of the old cushion and order a new one. If you are using an AirFit F20 silicone cushion instead of the AirTouch F20’s standard UltraSoft cushion, you can perform high-level thermal disinfection or chemical sterilization, using Alconox solutions for both procedures.
- Simplified Cleaning: Additional components, such as the elbow and frame, should be rinsed, bushed softly, and then soaked in a warm water/liquid detergent mix for ten minutes. After soaking, brush these parts again, giving special attention to vent holes, connection areas, and moving parts in the elbow unit. These components should be rinsed a final time before being left to air dry. The headgear should be hand washed on a weekly basis using mild liquid detergent and warm water. Rinsing, squeezing out water, and air drying will complete the process. Remember, more intensive cleaning products are not recommended because they could cause deterioration of the mask components or allow harmful vapors to linger in your mask. You don’t want to breathe in nasty chemicals while undergoing CPAP treatment!
The full face AirTouch F20 is compatible with the vast majority of ResMed devices, including the entire Air 10 Series and the AirMini, as well as ventilation devices like the Astral. Always double check that the mask is compatible with your current CPAP device before placing an order.
Achieving the Right Fit
As with any other CPAP therapy mask, finding the right fit for your AirTouch F20 will be essential for achieving the desired results. Your medical provider can help you determine which mask size will be best suited for your needs by measuring the space between the top of the nose and the top of the chin. Typically between three to five inches in length, the distance between these two areas will determine which of the three AirTouch F20 sizes is right for you (the For Her line uses slightly smaller measurement guidelines).
Even with these measurements, there is still the possibility that your AirTouch F20 will experience a leak due to improper sizing or a seal that has been compromised and needs to be replaced.
Thankfully, the use of a memory foam cushion allows for easier resolution of many air leak incidents. Should you experience a leak while using your AirTouch F20 mask, simply run your finger around the mask seal to find the location of the leak. Gently adjust the upper or lower straps to tighten the mask and stop the leak. You will typically only need to tighten the straps for the portion of the mask where the leak has occurred.
If this initial step doesn’t stop the leak, you will need to “reseal” your mask. Turn off your CPAP device and take off the mask so the UltraSoft memory foam can return to its standard shape. Once the cushion is back to normal, replace it on your face, making sure that the top portion of the cushion is appropriately positioned atop your nasal bridge.
While following these steps should solve most leak problems, you may continue to experience leaks even after these troubleshooting methods. If this is the case, consult with your physician to determine if a different mask size or a replacement mask is needed. Replacing deteriorated mask cushions as quickly as possible will ensure that you continue to receive quality therapy results.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Even with the comfort enhancements offered by the AirTouch F20 mask, there is no denying that adjusting to CPAP therapy can take some getting used to. While previously-mentioned steps to adapt to wearing a mask will go a long way in helping you get a good night’s sleep, other habits that are only indirectly related to your therapy can also make a big difference.
Your nighttime routine will often play a central role in how long it takes to fall asleep. This can further aggravate feelings of discomfort from wearing a mask or from having a constant flow of air pressure from a CPAP device.
One of the biggest factors that keeps individuals from falling asleep quickly is exposure to brightly-lit screens. Using a smartphone or tablet will actually make the brain more alert, counteracting the feelings of drowsiness that naturally occur at the end of the day. Replace screen time with activities that help you relax, such as reading a book in bed with the lights dimmed.
Late-night exercise or caffeine consumption can also make it more difficult to fall asleep, as these activities stimulate the body. Caffeine can be especially problematic, causing you to lie awake for hours as it works its way through your system. Exercise in the early afternoon and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening.
You may also find it beneficial to meditate before going to bed. Clearing your mind of stresses and to-do lists will make it easier to relax as you drift off to sleep.
Making these adjustments to your nightly routine will put your mind and body in the right place before going to bed and beginning your CPAP therapy. Approaching your treatment with a more relaxed outlook will help mitigate potential feelings of discomfort as you adjust to using your AirTouch F20 mask.
Your New Mask
With the use of UltraSoft memory foam cushioning, the AirTouch F20 mask goes a long way in relieving many of the discomforts commonly associated with CPAP treatment. If you have been struggling to fall asleep after starting CPAP therapy — even with changes to your nightly routine — switching to a more comfortable mask could be the solution.
Here at No Insurance Medical Supplies, we have everything you need to fully integrate the AirTouch F20 mask into your treatment. Whether you need a full face mask with headgear, a replacement cushion, or a compatible ResMed therapy device, we have the therapy products you need at an affordable price.
Adjusting to CPAP therapy can be a bit of a challenge. But it doesn’t have to result in lasting discomfort that disrupts your sleep. Try the AirTouch F20 mask for yourself, and you will see that getting a full, rejuvenating rest each night isn’t as far off as you might think.