Table of contents
Can I Use a CPAP Machine when I'm Awake?When is Daytime CPAP Usage Advisable?Daytime Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Risks & TreatmentBenefits of Using CPAP while AwakeRecommendations for Using CPAP Machine During the Day
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Can You Use CPAP While You're Awake?

Nov 07, 2023
· 7 mins read

Sleep apnea patients usually use their CPAP machine while sleeping. However, you may be wondering if you can get CPAP therapy also while you’re awake. Especially if you want to get used to the machine or you are suffering from an advanced type of sleep apnea or additional respiratory diseases like COPD.

We’re going to clear up whether there is any benefit to getting your continuous positive airway pressure therapy while awake.

Can I Use a CPAP Machine when I'm Awake?

The short answer is yes, you can. However, this depends on whether you experience sleep apnea or other breathing disorders during the day.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start again multiple times a night. It can be a serious health problem since it can decrease oxygen levels in important organs, such as the brain and heart.

Even if this sleeping disorder is not diagnosed early on , some of the symptoms include headaches, excessive weakness, daytime sleepiness, and irritability.

Sleep apnea can also lead to more serious medical conditions that can impact your quality of life, like a higher risk of strokes and other cardiovascular complications.

Most physicians recommend CPAP therapy, which is considered one of the most effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). CPAP devices provide air pressure through a CPAP mask, allowing your upper airway to stay open while you sleep.

When is Daytime CPAP Usage Advisable?

If you breathe properly while awake or during naps, there’s no reason to receive CPAP treatment in the daytime. However, other related conditions can lead to high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, just like in COPD (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) where patients usually present with difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and sputum production.

In these cases a healthcare provider could recommend using APAP or CPAP therapy during the day, that way there is an increased and easier uptake of oxygen from your lungs.

In specific cases some doctors recommend wearing it while watching TV, using the computer, or reading a book. Even if you do not experience breathing problems during the day, it’s a great way to get comfortable with your CPAP mask, giving you a better sense of the fit and helping you get familiar with it before going to bed.

Keep in mind that although CPAP machines are safe, overuse of the equipment has its side effects such as  dry mouth or facial skin irritation, especially if you use it during the day and night.

The best way to reduce and prevent many of these side effects is by using a good humidifier, cleaning the machine and choosing the right mask for your individual needs and preferences.

Daytime Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Risks & Treatment

It’s important to clarify that people with sleep apnea usually have trouble breathing only at night, but in some uncommon and advanced types of patients with sleep apnea, they could also have trouble breathing while awake.

If you suffer from central sleep apnea, you may feel sleepy during the day or suffer from frequent headaches due to a constantly interrupted sleep cycle. Other issues you may notice are an inability to concentrate for  a certain period of time , as well as fatigue general weakness. This may also be a sign of underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.

If you’re not breathing correctly, you might need to be seen by a physician to orientate your treatment or take a home sleep test. Maybe you could still benefit from using a CPAP machine. However, in order for the CPAP therapy to work correctly, you must have the correct air pressure setting on your CPAP device prescribed by a sleep medicine doctor.

Benefits of Using CPAP while Awake

As we already discussed, CPAP machines are useful tools for treating sleep apnea during the night, but it can also be used during the day if breathing difficulties exist.

The benefits of using a CPAP while awake can become evident in as little as a single day and night. After not breathing well for an extended period of time, you will notice a positive change in your quality of life. Some of the benefits include:

  • - Reduce excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood and improve oxygen saturation in many pulmonary and central nervous system conditions.
  • - The airflow pressure will clear the obstruction that’s making it difficult for you to breathe.
  • - Alleviate bothersome symptoms like fatigue and dyspnea (labored breathing).
  • - Wearing a CPAP mask during the day eases the transition to get accustomed to a CPAP mask, making it easier to sleep, benefiting those with  claustrophobia or anxiety.
  • - Enhances awareness by promoting proper breathing and increases oxygen delivery to the brain. Can potentially replace night treatment if the doctor approves so.
  • - Being useful if your bed partner is disturbed by your CPAP machine at night. Remember that most new CPAP machines are not noisy at all in case you need to be treated during the night too.
  • - Can help you familiarize yourself with CPAP Machines  and CPAP masks , reducing voluntary non-compliance, a recurring issue that happens when you’re uncomfortable wearing a CPAP mask during the night.

In order for you to get fully accustomed to your CPAP treatment, you should choose a CPAP mask that works for you.

Recommendations for Using CPAP Machine During the Day

Although a CPAP machine can be a bit inconvenient bulky for regular use when you’re awake, if you’re able to stay in one place, you will be able to use one.

Whether you’re using it to address breathing problems while awake or to become more well-adjusted to using it at night, here a few recommendations:

Find the right mask:

There are three types of cpap masks you can choose from: full-face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillow masks. They have different features for different types of patients. Make sure the mask fit and the headgear is comfortable and that you’re able to move around in your bed without any discomfort.

Change the body position: 

Wearing your CPAP mask while lying down (without falling asleep) can aid in acclimating to how the mask fits while in a reclined position, as the fit slightly varies between the two. Make sure to try different positions lying down to simulate sleeping.

Consider using a humidifier: 

If you suffer from allergies, nasal congestion or dry mouth, the heated humidifier option on some CPAP machines like the ResMed Airsense 11 may be beneficial for you.

Adapt it to your sleep habits:

If you take naps during the day, consider using it since your breathing patterns may be affected during those short periods.

Make sure you seek medical advice:

From your healthcare provider or sleep medicine specialist and keep in mind that in order to receive a   CPAP therapy prescription, you’ll have to do a sleep study in a sleep center or from home

The sleep study will measure your apnea-hypopnea index (number of times you have apnea or hypopnea during one night, divided by the hours of sleep, useful to quantify severity and choose treatment) and titration to determine your sleep apnea diagnosis and the correct pressure levels for you.

Can You Use CPAP While You

In conclusion, CPAP devices are safe to use during day and night. They can generate mild side effects according to the type of machine or mask you’re using, but they can be mitigated by making simple adjustments.

Some doctors will recommend you use the machine for a few occasions during the day, like when you’re watching TV or reading a book, to help you get used to the CPAP mask and the pressurized air.

The incorporation of CPAP therapy during the day is necessary only in rare cases of sleep, pulmonary and nervous system disorders where the carbon dioxide levels get high enough to cause uncomfortable symptoms and illness. All these scenarios must be discussed with your physician.

At Sleeplay, our goal is to connect you with leading products in the industry and simplify your sleep therapy treatment so you can stick to it. By doing so, your breathing disorders will  improve and so will your quality of life.

We offer the latest and best priced CPAP machines in the market with all the accessories to make sleep apnea treatment an easy and comfortable experience.

If you want to know what the best CPAP machines are this year you can check our blog, where you will always find updated information regarding sleep apnea and CPAP uses.

Gustavo Fernández

Medically reviewed: Gustavo Fernandez

Advanced medical student at the Central University of Venezuela. He has experience as a clinical observer in The Division of Respiratory Medicine at St. Paul's Hospital and participated in research related to respiratory diseases at the University of British Columbia (Canada).

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