600-777 Hornby St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6Z 1S4

F: 604 558-3400
[email protected]

Proudly Accredited by the Diagnostic Accreditation Program of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC


FAQIf you have any problems using your CPAP, please contact Vancouver Sleep Solutions at the first sign of any symptoms. Each person will require individual assistance based on the type of problem, their equipment and their prescription.

The following information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care professional. It should be considered a source of education but should not be used to treat or make judgments on your condition. You should not start, stop or change any treatment plan without consulting your doctor.

Click On Your Question:

How does CPAP work?

The CPAP machine delivers a constant flow of air through tubing and a mask and into your airway. The CPAP machine creates enough pressure in your airway to hold the tissue open, so your airway doesn’t collapse.

CPAP is a treatment, not a cure. While you’re using CPAP, your sleep apnea symptoms stop. Your breathing and your sleep are healthy. If you stop using CPAP, your sleep apnea symptoms will come back. Your breathing and sleep will be interrupted again.

If your doctor says you need to use CPAP, you must use it every time you sleep.

Is the equipment complicated?

CPAP equipment is intentionally designed to not be complicated because it is meant to be used every day by people from all walks of life. Every piece of equipment comes with written instructions on how to use it and care for it. Our health professionals will teach you how to manage your first night at home, from setting up your system to fitting your mask, to breathing easily while you fall asleep. They will let you know what you can expect to experience as you continue with your CPAP therapy.

We encourage you to call us if you need more help.

How long will it take me to get used to CPAP?

Some people are able to use their equipment with no problems from the very first night. They wake up feeling much more rested. Others can have trouble getting used to the mask and the pressure. It may take up to 6 weeks to adjust. It is important to keep trying – do not give up.

Why do I have to clean my equipment?

Equipment that is kept clean works better, lasts longer, and will help prevent nose, sinus, throat and chest infections. Skin irritation may also be avoided. Keeping your equipment clean is a very good investment in your therapy.

When do I need to use my CPAP and for how long each time?

You should use your CPAP every time you sleep, including naps. Without it, your sleep apnea is untreated and will cause the same problems it did before.

You should take your CPAP with you wherever you will need to sleep, whether you are working, vacationing, being admitted to hospital, or just napping in your living room. Some doctors feel that using CPAP for at least 4 sleep hours is adequate in the beginning phase of treatment. The goal is to increase gradually to a full night of CPAP. Using your CPAP as prescribed is important.

Can I breathe through my mouth?

Yes – if you are using a full face mask.

No – avoid mouth-breathing if you are using a nasal mask.

If your mouth is open when using a nasal mask, the air from the CPAP unit will leak out, rather than reach your airway. This is not only ineffective, it is often uncomfortable and can cause awakening.

Many people using a nasal mask adjust naturally to keeping the mouth closed during sleep, others learn it with a bit of practice. Our health care professionals are knowledgeable in the different causes and treatments of persistent mouth-breathing and can help resolve this problem.

Why is it harder to exhale than inhale with my CPAP on?

This experience is normal and to be expected when you begin using CPAP. Inhaling this air usually feels more natural than exhaling.

The air from the CPAP machine is pressurized and directed down your airway to keep it open. By relaxing, keeping the mouth closed and concentrating on a slow, regular breathing pattern, most people get accustomed to the different sensations of inhaling and exhaling. You should ask your doctor or health care professional for help if this problem persists. New equipment technologies are available to help improve your comfort.

What if I have a stuffy nose?

The most common cause is often lack of humidity, which may also lead to mouth-breathing. If you have a persistent stuffy or runny nose before bedtime or after a few hours of sleep, you should seek assistance from your health care professional.

The first step in treating this problem is ensuring you use a CPAP heated humidifier and properly clean all equipment.

If your nose is usually stuffy or runny (e.g. because of allergies, sinusitis, rhinitis), ask your doctor about nasal irrigants or prescription nasal sprays. These nasal treatments can safely be used long-term to help keep your nasal passages clear, make breathing with CPAP more comfortable and prevent mouth-breathing. Non-prescription nasal sprays and ointments containing petroleum should be avoided. You may also have partly blocked nostrils because of nasal polyps or old fractures in your nose bones.

What should I do if I am having trouble fitting my mask?

Any issue with fit, function or comfort should be addressed with your health care professional right away. Your mask is one of the most important aspects of your CPAP therapy.

If you are a new CPAP user, remember that you should fit your mask just snugly enough to prevent leaks in all sleep positions. Mask fitting takes practice. Over-tightening the straps can cause or worsen a leak. Try readjusting the position of your mask before tightening the straps – gently pull the mask away from your face with the CPAP on, then resettle it until you find the right position. If that does not work, try adjusting the straps.

If you’ve have had your mask for some time and it has just recently become difficult to fit, it may need to be replaced.

Why do I still snore with my CPAP on?

If you are having trouble with mask fit, stuffy nose, or mouth-breathing, you may continue to snore. Snoring may also occur if your CPAP pressure needs adjusting. Contact your health care professional.

Why do I sometimes remove my mask in my sleep?

Adjusting to CPAP – This is a normal experience for the new CPAP user and requires a little patience. You might simply need time to get used to using CPAP. Occasionally, new CPAP users have difficulty going back to sleep if they have awakened during the night. This can usually be remedied by ensuring proper mask fit and a relaxed breathing pattern.

Breathing Difficulties – Stuffy nose, difficulty exhaling, or snoring may cause you to remove your mask while you are asleep. You should work to resolve these issues with your health care professional.

If these steps do not help and a return to sleep seems impossible, the only option may be to remove the CPAP for the last few hours of sleep. Since it is preferred you use your CPAP as directed, ensure you contact your health care professional to determine the problem and find a solution.

Why do I wake up with red marks on my face?

Any marks from your CPAP mask and headgear should disappear soon after you remove the mask. If they don’t disappear, or if you have sore or red skin, your headgear could be too tight or you mask might not fit right.

Adjust your headgear until it is just tight enough to make a seal without any large leaks. A small air leak that does not blow into your eyes is fine. If that doesn’t help, try a different style of mask. Ask your CPAP supplier to help you chose one that’s right for you.

CPAP masks are made of a medical grade silicone and are hypoallergenic. If your skin is irritated:

Wash your mask with warm, soapy water and air dry every day.

Wash your face and dry well before putting the mask on.

If you have a rash, call your doctor. You may need a prescription skin cream.

If those tips don’t help, try a different style of mask.

My eyes are sore, red or dry when I wake up

Readjust your head gear to eliminate any air leaks into your eyes. If you’re still having problems, contact our office about being fitted for a different mask.

Can CPAP cause bloating or burping?

If your stomach feels bloated or you burp a lot after using your CPAP, you may be swallowing excess air during your sleep.

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting used to relaxed, regular breathing with your CPAP. Other times it is related to a mouth-breathing issue that requires some form of treatment. In either case, it usually disappears once the cause is addressed. If the problem persists, or is accompanied by ear discomfort, inform your doctor.

Are numerous vivid dreams during CPAP use normal?

Dreaming is normal, and is good for you.

Quite often, untreated sleep apnea disrupts sleep so severely that the dream stage is constantly interrupted or never reached at all. When the sleep apnea is suddenly eliminated by CPAP, dream sleep is restored. It may occupy much of your sleep time for the first week or so. After that, the dreams will taper off toward the levels seen in normal, healthy adults.

Why does it take longer to fall asleep now?

It takes a normal, healthy adult 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. Before you started CPAP, you probably had significant sleep deprivation caused by your sleep apnea. CPAP suddenly controlled the sleep apnea, which in turn allowed you to fall asleep very quickly for the first few weeks.

As your sleep pattern continues to stabilize, you naturally begin to take more time to fall asleep. Though this can seem like a step backward, it usually means that your CPAP is doing its job and you are getting better. If your CPAP is disturbing you during this time, or if it’s consistently taking you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, certain adjustments to your machine may help you fall asleep faster.

I feel much better after a year. Can I stop now?

You should not stop using your CPAP until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to do so.

Stopping CPAP can allow sleep apnea to return with all of its negative effects, unless it has been controlled or eliminated by some other measure. If you have lost weight, quit smoking, given up alcohol or sleeping pills, you have done yourself a big healthy favor and you should feel proud. However, a repeat sleep study is the best way to know for sure whether or not you still require treatment.

Can I use my CPAP system in other countries?

Most CPAP systems have a power supply that automatically adjusts to the various power supplies in different parts of the world. All devices will accept 100-240V, 50-60Hz, without any special adjustment. Please note that you will still need to use the correct adapter for the power supply socket of the country you are visiting.

What else should I keep in mind when I travel with my CPAP?

  1. Carry a travel letter from your sleep therapist or a copy of your CPAP/BiPAP prescription.
  2. Put CPAP in carry-on luggage and empty all the water from your humidifier chamber.
  3. Consider bring an extension power cord.