For many people struggling with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been shown to be effective at helping them sleep without snoring.
However, it is important that you use the correct one - and use it regularly, with the right fit and settings - for it to be effective. In this post, we will review some of the most common CPAPs available to the public right now. Also see the reviews of our VitalSleep product.
Before you read further, don't forget we think we have the best snoring mouth guard on the market. If you have a sleep issue it's also worth checking these out.
Philips Respironics has a few different CPAP designs to choose from. One unique feature of their designs is the location of the hose clamp which is at the top of the head and has a 360-degree angle design. This means people who are active sleepers don’t have to worry as much about the air hose getting twisted or coming disconnected.
DreamWear Nasal Mask
Unlike other nasal masks, the DreamWear nasal mask doesn’t cover your whole nose. It works by resting against your nostrils and supplying air directly.
The nasal mask allows users to wear the product and still function relatively easily. For example, people who like to read before bed (and those who wear glasses to do so) or watch television, can put the nasal mask on without interrupting their activities or worrying about falling asleep and snoring.
DreamWear Nasal Pillow
The nasal pillow design uses soft, gel-like “pillows” of silicone that rest around the base of your nostrils. When wearing the nasal pillow CPAP, the nostrils are sealed with these pillows and air is sent directly into your airway. The key difference between the nasal pillow and mask is you don’t lose or waste any air with the pillow. All air is sent directly through your nostrils.
DreamWear Full Face Mask
Unlike the nasal designs, DreamWear’s full face masks covers both the nose and mouth so whether you are a mouth or nose breather, it can work for you. A compact design, this mask is smaller than many common CPAP masks and secures with magnets.
One of Philips Respironic’s latest products, this mask is lightweight, made of silicone, and adjustable. It comes with a soft fabric that you can attach to the sides to prevent the silicone from touching your face.
DreamStation Auto CPAP With Humidifier
This CPAP machine from Philips Respironics has a number of features that are designed to integrate technology and patient well-being. Depending on the model, the DreamStation can use BlueTooth, cellular, and Wi-Fi connections which allows both users and clinicians to collect and share information and data about how it’s working.
Some models include a heated humidifier to help prevent dry throats and noses in users and integrates with some of the company’s other sleep solutions. It is designed and engineered in the U.S. Features include:
- A graphics based menu system designed to emulate smartphones.
- Automatic day/night adjustment of display brightness
- Detachable humidifier
- Two-step air filtration
- SD Card and compliance codes to securely share data with your healthcare provider
- Daily progress reports for up to three days
While the company touts this machine as one of the most advanced and quiet, not everyone agrees. While there are some who claim the unit is very quiet, others report it develops a high-pitched whine.
Additionally, the cord is troublesome and the humidifier reservoir does not hold enough water to last all night. Overall, Amazon reviewers give it a 2.9-star rating of 5 stars.
Philips Respironics has created some unique designs with their CPAP products and have become quite popular among those who benefit from using CPAP. Their minimalistic design means users are able to use them without obstructing their vision and the quick disconnect hose allows you to quickly disconnect if you need to get up to use the bathroom or for any other reason.
They do not come without issues, however. Common complaints about these devices include:
- Leaving whelps/rashes on the skin
- Irritating the skin of the nose or cheeks
- Slipping off while sleeping
- Noisy (air flows past ears with these designs)
- Side hoses can be flattened when sleeping on the side which disrupts air flow.
Philips Respironics is a health technology company founded and headquartered in the Netherlands.
ResMed AirSense 10 Auto
The ResMed AirSense 10 Auto is a sleek design and, like Philips’ DreamStation, comes with a built-in humidifier. There are four different models ranging from basic to the fully automatic. This is for the automatic model.
The kit comes in a carry bag with the unit, a six-foot CPAP tube, reservoir, and power supply. There is an optional six-foot heated tube available for those who want to use the humidifier without extra condensation. Both tubes work with any mask.
It adjusts pressure levels automatically, based on how well you’re sleeping from four up to 20 and the humidifier is optional. This is helpful for individuals who turn a lot in their sleep and for those who switch from obstructive to central sleep apnea. The machine automatically adjusts. Technology is integrated to allow data to be uploaded to their cloud so information can be easily shared with your caregiver.
It has an auto-detect so when the lights go out, the display on the devices also goes out and the front-facing display is easy to use and navigate. There is a built-in expiratory pressure relief (EPR) feature that adjusts based on your exhalation pressure. EPR helps keep users compliant by reducing the feelings of breathlessness while sleeping.
One unique thing about the ResMed AirSense 10 Auto is that it comes in a model designed for women. Developers realized women may breathe differently so they designed a unit to accommodate that.
The ResMed AirSense 10 Auto is costly but with the built-in humidifier, it can be a very good solution for CPAP users. It is also among the highest-rated for low noise.
IntelliPAP AutoAdjust® CPAP
Developed by Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, this CPAP device is a highly-rated machine with many desirable features.
For individuals with moderate to severe sleep apnea, the IntelliPAP AutoAdjust® provides you with a simple way to connect and get the most out of the information it collects.
With their SmartLink app, users can view daily, weekly, or monthly reports, daily reminders, and notifications. It also provides support for set-up and maintenance of the device.
The AutoAdjust features include:
- Automatic pressure adjustment based on event density and type
- Adjustable definition of apnea and hypopnea (percentage and duration)
- Adjustable upper and lower pressure limits
- Adjustable delay setting for up to four hours
- Automatic detection of mask conditions
- Ultra-sensitive snoring detection
- Automatic leak-detection and compensation
At just under 4.5 pounds, the small design allows users who travel a lot the convenience of taking it with you.
Z1 CPAP Review
The z1 CPAP comes in both a mini and regular size device. Both are very compact and easy to travel with (the travel model weighs just 10 ounces). As with many other Auto CPAPs, it uses BlueTooth technology for use with the NiteLog app which provides users with advanced sleep data reporting.
Unique to the Z1 CPAP is their patented Z-Breathe algorithm which helps make it easier for users to exhale as they sleep. It automatically turns off when not in use and, although it is a quiet machine, it can be made even quieter with the Q-tube muffler which further reduces ambient noise, helping you stay asleep.
A common issue with the Z1 machine is the short life of the battery and, for some, the noise is too much.
Transcend CPAPs from Somnetics provides OSA sufferers with a lightweight, portable device that makes travelling with them easy and convenient.
There are three different models: Transcend Auto, Transcend EZEX, and Transcend miniCPAP™ Machine. Each is very small in size and weigh less than a pound.
Each has their own pros and cons. All units provide users with detailed data management with TranSync which helps users collect and share information with their healthcare providers.
However, only the Transcend AUTO provides self-adjusting pressure technology to automatically increase or decrease pressure as you sleep by detecting apnea events, leaks, or changes in sleep position.
While an optional humidifier is available, these devices do not come with one built-in. Without the humidifier, many complain of nose dryness and soreness after just a couple of hours of use. When you purchase the humidifier, the size becomes larger and not much different from average CPAP machines and the battery pack is not useable with the humidifier. Some individuals have also found the device to be too loud.
Developed by SmartMed, the iBreeze CPAP features a heated humidifier and responsive, large 3.5-inch LCD display (Bi-Level machines have 5-inch touchscreens). EPR technology helps reduce pressure when you exhale so it’s easier to breathe out against the air that’s entering.
Auto-adjusting humidifying detects changes in the humidity and temperature of the room and will adjust accordingly to give you the right amount of humidity. They are available in two different models: male and female, because female snorers require different pressure and have different breathing patterns than male snorers.
As with other CPAP Auto machines, the iBreeze incorporates technology via a smartphone app to provide users with detailed data and reports which are a valuable way to treat sleep apnea.
While it is not the quietest machine on the market, it is on the lower end in terms of cost. The average price of CPAPs is estimated to be around $850 and iBreeze comes in at a cost of around $1,300.
Icon CPAP Review
The ICON CPAP from Fisher & Paykel is a CPAP ideal for home or travel. One unique feature of the ICON model is the music playing option that allows user to use iTunes to wake up to music of their choice.
Icon’s built-in auto-algorithm continuously monitors for changes such as flow limitations, apneas, and hypopneas. When it detects an event, it increases the pressure until the obstruction is remedied or the maximum pressure setting is reached.
The Icon also has a patented SensAwake™ technology that reduces pressure when transitioning from sleep to waking. It is intended to help users return to sleep during times of waking through the night.
The Icon CPAP uses the USB SmartStick to record up to 365 days of therapy data, and 30 days of detailed efficacy data and cumulative data, however, it can vary depending on tracking capabilities of your machine.
ThermoSmart technology helps keep humidity regulated regardless of ambient room temperature and the heated hose helps reduce or eliminate condensation which can lead to mold or bacterial build-up.
Many users report the technical aspects - as well as the design - of this CPAP to be complex and difficult. Cleaning the reservoir is also challenging. Additionally, your healthcare provider may need to download the software to access your sleep data and analyses.
Each of these CPAP products have their own pros and cons. Before deciding on which one you would like to try, there are several features to keep in mind. Specifically, experts suggest:
- Algorithm accuracy and dependability
- Expiratory pressure relief (EPR)
- Heated tube humidifier
What works for some may not work for others so be sure to research as much as possible to determine which CPAP machine best suits your needs.
Bear in mind, as well, you will need to be able to clean your CPAP machine regularly to avoid infections and irritation. The FDA warns that you should avoid any products that claim to use ozone or UV light to clean these machines. Such machines are not approved or supported by the FDA and could be quite dangerous for your health.
Be sure to check on the cost of any optional features of a CPAP before you order as well as the cost for and availability of replacement parts. A prescription is required to get a CPAP and even if you do get one, it will not work if you do not use it regularly.
Some research indicates as many as half of patients using CPAP machines, stop using them.
Common reasons people are not compliant in using their CPAP machines include:
Many people struggle with the idea of having a mask cover their nose and mouth.
Masks can be large and intrusive to some individuals until they acclimate to wearing it.
CPAP machines make noise. Some are louder than others. When you (or your sleep partner) are not used to having the noise in the bedroom, it can be hard to sleep.
When you are adjusting to a CPAP, it will usually take some time to get used to it. This leads to excessive fatigue which can make individuals question the effectiveness of using one.
Too many parts
Some people are not comfortable sleeping with hoses and cords and all that is involved with using a CPAP until they are used to it.
Be sure to consider these things as you decide which CPAP device to use. Be prepared to allow yourself to acclimate to using a CPAP and give it at least a week to try and adjust.
The right CPAP machine can help you and your bed partner return to getting a restful sleep each night. As technology has improved the ways these devices help with sleep apnea, there is sure to be a machine that fits your needs.
If you want to try an alternative to CPAP machines, an oral device that prevents the throat muscles from blocking your breathing may be a great alternative. At a much lower cost, an oral appliance such as VitalSleep might be a great option.