Getting used to CPAP - ResMed-Master

Getting used to CPAP or bilevel treatment

How long does it take to get used to therapy equipment? Whether you’re starting CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or another PAP therapy for the first time, or switching from a different device, some people adapt quickly, others can take a little longer. If you’re having issues, you don’t need to face them alone – we have plenty of suggestions that could help make the process easier.

When you’re learning to use your new therapy equipment, it’s important to build good habits, stay positive and practise. It’s also worth taking the time to focus on your comfort. Here are a few techniques and tips that could help you get off to a good start.

Breathing against the air flow of a CPAP machine

CPAP therapy uses pressurised air to keep your airways open – the same with all types of PAP, or positive airway pressure, therapy. If this is your first experience of PAP therapy it will probably be an unusual feeling, but it’s something you can get accustomed to with practice.

Start by getting used to the feeling of your CPAP mask on your face, before turning on your machine. Try to relax your breathing: breathe like you do normally when you’re awake. Then practise breathing by using your device during the daytime, for example while you’re relaxing or watching television – just for a few minutes at first if you prefer. Please remember your body will automatically breathe out against the flow of air when you’re sleeping.

If you’ve practised and you still find it difficult to breathe against the air flow, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. They might suggest using a:

  • ResMed device with a Ramp feature: this gently eases you into therapy by gradually increasing from a low starting pressure to your full therapy pressure. The AirSense 11 AutoRamp can be set to stay low until you fall asleep, which could be useful if you’re struggling to nod off during therapy.
  • ResMed device with SmartStart™ feature: with SmartStart, you don’t need to press the start button. Instead, therapy starts when you put your mask on your face and breathe in, which could help you to acclimatise to therapy and get used to breathing with your mask on.
  • ResMed device with EPR™ (expiratory pressure relief) feature: EPR slightly reduces the pressure when you breathe out, helping to make breathing feel smoother and more natural.
  • ResMed  device with AutoSet™: the AutoSet algorithm automatically adjusts the pressure that you receive throughout the night, so the pressure only increases if and when you need it.
  • ResMed AirCurve 11 device: bilevel machines like the AirCurve 11 provide two levels of air pressure: one for breathing in to keep your airway open and a lower pressure level to help make breathing out easier.

If you’re a front or side-sleeper or tend to move around a lot in the night the type of mask you use can also affect your therapy and comfort. That’s why we design masks to suit your sleeping style. A comfort accessory, such as a CPAP pillow, can also go a long way towards improving the therapy experience for some people.

Adjusting the air’s humidity level

Sometimes you may experience side effects from breathing in dry, cold air from your device. These can include a dry throat and mouth or stuffy nose. A humidifier can help avoid this and make therapy more comfortable1 by adding moisture to the air you breath via a small heated water tub. You can also use heated tubing to warm the air and prevent moisture building up in the tube, which could then run towards your face. You can set the humidity level manually, or if you have a humidifier and heated tubing connected the Climate Control feature can adapt to conditions automatically.

A round purple icon with a drawing of a man sleeping on his side while wearing a mask.

Understanding noise from your CPAP device or mask

If your equipment is noisy, it’s possible that some parts aren’t connected properly. That can result in air leaking out, causing a sound. The first important step is to work out where the noise/leak is coming from: the device itself, heated humidifier, CPAP tubing or mask.

Then check that everything is connected properly, run the device for a few minutes and listen for a change in the noise. If it persists, you should refer to your mask and/or device user guide for fitting and setup instructions.

Still can’t get used to CPAP?

A middle-aged woman sitting at a table with some papers, discussing her treatment with her female doctor.

Minor setbacks aside, if you have a good mask seal and use your PAP therapy equipment consistently, you should start to feel benefits in your quality of life and overall health. However, please contact your doctor or care provider for a check-up if:

  • your obstructive or central sleep apnoea symptoms persist
  • you feel worse than you did when you started therapy
  • you’re finding it hard to breathe out against the air pressure
  • you feel like treatment just isn’t working

Please refer to the user guides for relevant information related to any contraindications, warnings and precautions to be considered before and during use of the products.


  1. Patil SP, Ayappa IA, Caples SM, et al. Treatment of Adult Obstructive Sleep Apnea With Positive Airway Pressure: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and GRADE Assessment. JCSM 2019;15(2):301-34


Content last updated: 04/2024.