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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Woidtke, MSN, RN, RPSGT, CCSH

CPAP Acclimation Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help you get started using your CPAP machine. Just like using a map to get to a destination, these directions can help you get to your CPAP goal. 



It is OK to take some time to get used to using your CPAP.  Not everyone learns to ride a bike their first try, and we sometimes fall off a few times before learning. Just like learning to ride a bike, adjusting to CPAP takes practice. 


First, some tips along the way

  • One way you may start is by wearing your CPAP mask while awake (you don’t need to attach it to the machine). The goal is to get used to the feeling of wearing the mask. While wearing it during the day, you can watch TV, read a book, fall asleep, or do other activities.

  • If you experience any issues wearing the mask, such as skin redness or blisters, contact your sleep coach via Healthie chat for assistance. Your coach is here to help you!

  • This guide below is meant to be tailored to your needs and what works best for you. The number of days you spend on each lesson and the length of time you spend is flexible and should be customized to your journey.

  • Don’t start the next lesson until you have reached the goal for the lesson you are on.


1st Lesson: 1 Hour Awake

  • Practice putting on the mask in front of the mirror. It helps to see how it fits. You might want to adjust the headgear, but be sure not to make it too tight.

  • After you feel comfortable doing these steps, leave the mask on for about 1 hour while you’re awake. This helps you to get used to the feeling of having it on.  

  • You can do this without the CPAP hose attached and with the machine off. It helps just to sit and breathe slowly, but normal. 

  • The goal is to get used to the feeling of wearing the mask. While wearing it during the day or early evening, you can watch TV, read a book, fall asleep, or do other seated activities


Goal: Wearing the mask for 1 hour during the day is something you’re used to or feel comfortable with.


2nd Lesson: 3 Hours Awake

  • During the day or early evening, wear the mask for 1-3 hours. Begin with a goal of 1 hour and gradually increase the time as you meet your target until you reach 3 hours.

  • It helps to breathe slowly and normally.

  • You can do this with or without the CPAP hose attached.

  • If you disconnect the hose you do not need to turn the CPAP machine on.

  • If you leave the hose attached, the CPAP machine should be on and air should be coming out.


Goal: Wearing the mask for 3 hours during the day is something you’re used to or feel comfortable with.


3rd Lesson: 3 Hours Asleep

  • Turn your CPAP machine on and try to use the mask for 1-3 hours during the time you typically sleep. This could be a nap or your regular bedtime. 

  • Begin with a goal of 1 hour and gradually increase the time as you meet your target until you reach 3 hours. 

  • As you plan for bed, put your mask on, and check in the mirror to make sure the mask  is a good fit.

  • Sit on the side of the bed, hook up the hose to the mask, turn on the machine, and lay down. Sit quietly and take nice regular, normal breaths to adjust to the flow of air. Allow yourself to drift off to sleep at any time.

  • The goal is to get used to wearing it at your regular sleep time in your normal sleep room. It is good to start to create a habit of putting it on when you go to bed. 


Goal: Wear the mask with the CPAP machine on for 3 hours while you sleep.


4th Lesson: 4 Hours Asleep

  • Get into the habit of using your CPAP treatment every time you sleep, for at least 4 hours.

  • If you take a 1 hour nap, try to wear it the full hour. If you are sleeping at your regular bedtime, try to wear it for at least 4 hours.

  • If you are still having trouble, you can slowly work towards the 4 hours. Speak with your sleep coach to decide on a progressive goal that works for you.  

  • Don’t stress about the length of time you have it on while you’re sleeping, just do as much as you can. The main goal is to try and increase the time you are wearing it each night. Remember to reach out to your coach for support and tips for success!

  • Stay at this stage until you are able to wear your mask with the CPAP machine on for at least 4 hours during your typical sleep time. 


Goal: Wear the mask with the CPAP machine on for at least 4 hours while you sleep.


5th Lesson: Entire Sleep Time

  • Get into the routine of using your CPAP machine every time you sleep, for the entire time you are asleep. Like the other lessons, you can gradually increase the length of time each night as you meet your target.

  • If you take a 1 hour nap, wear it the entire hour. If you sleep for 8 hours, try to wear it for the full 8 hours.

  • When you are ready for bed, go to the room you normally sleep in, put on the mask, and turn on the CPAP machine. Eventually, you will form a habit of wearing your CPAP machine and form a routine of putting it on before you are ready to fall asleep!

  • If you’re having trouble remembering to put on your mask at your usual bedtime, try placing your mask on your pillow when you leave bed each morning, or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to put on the mask at your usual bedtime! 


Goal: Wear the mask with the CPAP machine on every time you go to sleep, for the entire time you are asleep.

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