Howard LeWine, MD, covers tips on how to deal with sleep apnea for those who find CPAP uncomfortable.
Before giving up on the CPAP, you could try practicing some relaxation techniques while wearing the mask during the day. Start with either no or very low CPAP pressure. Then try to gradually increase the pressure settings over a few weeks.
The other options can be costly. For example, disposable nasal valves, such as Provent Therapy, may help people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. You put them in the nostril openings and they are held in place with a gentle adhesive. The valves allow you to inhale air normally through your nose, but slow down exhalation. This creates pressure in your upper airway and keeps it open. Each pair costs two to three dollars.
Additional options include a custom, more comfortable CPAP mask that’s molded to your face, or an oral appliance that keeps the jaw in a forward position to stop the tongue from collapsing into the airway. An oral appliance is fitted by a dentist, and can be very effective. However, having the appliance in your mouth may initially cause jaw pain and it takes time getting used to it.
You can also add specific padding to the mask to make it more comfortable. It makes a big difference if the mask is comfortable and does not leave marks on the face.