Sleep apnea is a different experience for every person and every individual who suffers from this sleep disorder has a different level of air obstruction. That’s why the CPAP device has to be set at an ideal level to suit the individual’s needs. Having this optimized will help you breathe easily during sleep and wake up fully refreshed with plenty of energy to make it through the day.
The main task of your CPAP machine is to ensure your breathing isn’t obstructed while you sleep. So, the device continuously applies air pressure through your nose or mouth. It has been estimated that this is one of the most common ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
However, if you leave your condition untreated, you might experience obstructed airways, which can even collapse during sleep due to the position of your tongue or throat tissue. Thus, by applying positive airway pressure you address the issue and keep your airway open. As a result, it helps to reduce the instances of you waking through the night gasping for air.
So, if you treat your obstructive sleep apnea correctly, you can expect to have your quality of sleep restored over time.
Everything You Need to Know About CPAP Pressure Settings
The most important thing when it comes to the CPAP device pressure setting is to ensure it is appropriate for your specific condition. This means that for most people, the ideal CPAP pressure would be between 6 and 14 cmH2O. The average is 10 cmH2O.
Your sleep specialist is the person who will help you determine what specific level is right for you. Nevertheless, over time, you might need to adjust your CPAP device pressure, especially if you start snoring while using the device, which usually means that the level is no longer right for you.
Hence, your CPAP pressure can be too high. If this happens, it is very likely that you’ll experience discomfort in your mouth, nose or airways. As a result, you’ll find it difficult to fall asleep at night and reduce the benefits you should receive of your overall therapy. Having too high pressure can result in waking up tired and feeling sleepy throughout the day.
What’s more, if the pressure is too high, you might even face aerophagia, which can lead to gasping for air during the night which causes swallowing air into the stomachs. Consequently, an individual will end up with bloating, gas, discomfort, and excessive belching. You might even also experience burning sensation in the nose and throat when the pressure is too high.
CPAP is specifically designed to help you alleviate the daytime sleepiness you have been dealing with. Thus, if you have been experiencing this, it probably means that the pressure settings are too high and that you definitely need to adjust them.
On the other hand, the CPAP pressure settings can be too low if you keep experiencing difficulties breathing while sleeping. To keep your airways open, you need enough pressure to get the amount of oxygen you need. So, if you have more than five apnea or hypopnea events per hour, it means that you need to have higher pressure settings. Not receiving sufficient air will usually trigger poor sleep, feeling air-starved or daytime fatigue. Moreover, you can notice that your pressure settings aren’t right if you continue snoring despite using your CPAP device. Note that some users snore because their device leaks air. So, if your pressure is too low, you might also experience aerophagia.
What CPAP Pressure Do I Need?
A sleep specialist uses the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) to determine how many times you stop breathing over the course of an hour of sleep. So, generally speaking, if you experience an AHI level of five or more each hour, your CPAP device settings should be increased.
It is important to note that you should always talk to your sleep specialist to determine the right air pressure for you. This is especially important if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with the pressure not right. Thus, consult your sleep specialist about having your pressure settings adjusted.
You should never try adjusting the CPAP device setting by yourself as you might adjust the pressure too far in either direction, which could lead to a higher AHI reading, which won’t be beneficial at all.
The good news is that nowadays there are many AutoSet CPAP devices which adjust their pressure levels to fit your changing needs. So, they ensure you only receive the lowest pressure necessary. Hence, you won’t longer have to worry about whether your device delivers the right pressure for you as the device detects your breathing level and adjusts accordingly