If you’re someone who suffers from sleep apnea, then you’re likely no stranger to continuous positive airway pressure ventilators or CPAPs, and you’ve probably spent an awful amount of time wondering what the best CPAP machine might be.
Why You Should Use a CPAP Machine
If you suffer from sleep apnea, then chances are your CPAP is your best friend for the night, but if you’re looking to replace your old one – maybe it’s a bit too worn out – then you’re probably faced with countless new CPAP machines, and choosing the best one can be overwhelming.
There are dozens of different models at dozens of price points. You could easily spend $200 on a new CPAP, or more than $1000, but when not only your sleeping habits could benefit from having the best CPAP machine, but also your life, then it helps to familiarize yourself with some of the best options available. That’s why we compiled a list of our favorites, but first, let’s cover what a CPAP machine actually does.
What Does a CPAP Machine Do?
CPAP machines are predominately used to treat those who suffer from sleep apnea, although they’re sometimes used for other respiratory issues as well. Simply put, they’re a box with a fan and a hose connected to a mask that you wear. The CPAP machine supplies you with pressurized air throughout the night to keep the apnea events at bay.
The masks can vary in size and design based on the individual unit, as well as the wearer’s facial structure. Typically, you want a well-fitting mask that’s also comfortable – since you’ll be sleeping in it throughout the night. The best CPAP machines have discreet masks that don’t obstruct your entire face when you wear them.
How Using a CPAP Machine Can Help You
Using one of these machines will keep the pressure in your throat constant so that the airway doesn’t close during sleep and cut off your air supply. Think of them like a much-less-invasive tracheotomy. They’ll keep your throat from closing and allow you to breathe easy all night.
Those suffering from sleep apnea will have a pressure prescription from their doctor so that their CPAP gives just the right amount of pressurized air in just the right amount. The fan draws in air from the surrounding area, the box pressurizes it – and adds a bit of humidity – and the hose feeds it to the mask. There’s typically also a filter to help keep out dust or other particles.
Humid air is warmer and more soothing, perfect for something you’re going to be breathing in all night. Without the humidity, the CPAP machine may cause irritation and swelling. The hose itself is typically also heated to prevent condensation from building up and can also be replaced if they’re ever damaged or happen to wear out.
So, while virtually all CPAP machines serve a similar purpose – countering the effects of sleep apnea to reduce snoring and allow the wearer to sleep soundly all night – they are certainly not all made equal. That’s why we compiled this list.
The Best CPAP Machines in 2018
The DreamStation is one of the most expensive but with good reason, it’s one of the best CPAP machines out there, but don’t let the price tag scare you away. It adjusts on the fly to any changes in your sleep patterns.
If you’re worried about the sensation of having pressurized air pumped into you, then rest easy knowing that the DreamStation will only increase pressure to the prescribed amount in the event of an apnea event. It’ll keep your airway open to allow optimal breathing, and scale back once the episode subsides so you can go back to a comfortable sleep.
DreamStation Auto CPAP Features
- SmartRamp - The increased air pressure of a CPAP machine may cause difficulty in getting to sleep, especially if you’re new to the devices. To counter this, many of the best CPAP machines out there will have some kind of ramping technology. The DreamStation is no different. When you’re first lying down in bed, the pressure will start out low, and then gradually increase to your prescribed amount as you fall asleep.
- Once you’ve grown accustomed to your DreamStation, then you can enable OptiStart so that the pressure of each therapy session begins just below the previous session. This way, you’ll reduce the chance of residual apnea events when you’re first falling asleep.
- With the DreamStation’s optional Adaptive Humidity Levels, the humidity levels will adapt to a variety of circumstances, from room temperature to airflow. Alternatively, you can also disable this feature for a constant level of humidity.
- Another feature, A-Flex, will allow for variable pressure levels as you’re inhaling and exhaling. The pressure will increase as you draw in a breath, and then relax as you breathe out.
- The Dreamstation also comes fully equipped with Bluetooth connectivity as well as the DreamMapper app. The unit’s LCD screen has plenty of information, but by accessing the app, you can see even more detailed information that’s invaluable to both you and your doctor.
Another CPAP at the expensive end of the spectrum is the AirSense 10 AutoSet, but the high cost is for a good reason. It’s quiet, compact, and you can travel with it easily. The LCD screen is also easy to use and provides you with plentiful customization and statistics.
This machine will also auto-adjust depending on your individual needs, and its wireless connectivity will allow your healthcare professional to monitor you in real-time and make adjusts on the fly if necessary.
ResMed AirSense 10 Features
- AutoRamp technology will know the moment you go to bed and ramp up pressure from there. It’ll start out soft to help you get to sleep, and then steadily increasing pressure until it reaches your prescribed levels.
- The AirSense 10 is also quiet, ensuring a restful sleep for not only you but also whomever you may be lying beside.
- This CPAP is also smart enough to know when you’re breathing in and when you’re exhaling, and it reduces pressure accordingly.
- With SmartStart technology, you don’t even have to press the start button. The AirSense 10 will engage when it detects your first breath.
- If you’re new to CPAP machines, the pressure can take a bit of getting used to, and some people are just sensitive to it in general. For these cases, the AirSense 10 will gradually increase pressure to ease you in.
The DreamStation Go is like the little brother of the DreamStation featured at the top of this list. It’s built with portability in mind. It’s sleek, compact, has an overnight battery (that must be purchased separately, unfortunately) that’s perfect if you plan on going anywhere without the convenience of electrical outlets, like camping. If your prescribed pressure is around 10cm, expect the unit to last upwards of 13 hours before needing to be recharged.
Respironics DreamStation Features
- Flexible tubing specially designed for a travel CPAP machine. This 12mm tubing is 58% smaller than the traditional 22m tubing and has a simple click and go connections to the mask and the machine.
- Much like its big brother, the DreamStation Go also has flex technology which allows it to scale back the pressure when you’re exhaling and increase it during inhalation.
- The Go also has Bluetooth connectivity and DreamMapper support. If you have both the DreamStation and its little brother, the Go, then you can track both devices with the app at once.
Despite being comparatively cheap when looking at our previous machines, the IntelliPAP AutoAdjust is no slouch. It still has just about everything you’d need from one of the best CPAP machines, even if it’s lacking a few of the fancier bells and whistles. It will still counter sleep apnea events and allow you to get a solid night’s rest while also reducing snoring so that your partner may sleep sound as well.
IntelliPAP AutoAdjust Features
- SmartFlex technology, which is similar to some of the technologies in the above models. When enabled, it will scale back the pressure when you’re exhaling and then increase it again when you inhale. With three separate comfort levels, you’ll likely find something that works for the specific needs that will keep you from waking during the night.
- The AutoAdjust, much to its namesake, has a host of features that adjust based on your individual needs.
- It will adjust automatically based on the severity of the individual sleep apnea event, and you can even adjust the upper and lower limits of this sensitivity.
- You can also adjust the definition of apnea or hypopnea events, by both percentage and duration.
- Choose to delay the start by up to 4 hours.
- The AutoAdjust will also automatically detect your mask conditions, as well as your snoring, and adjust accordingly.
Pros and Cons of Using a CPAP Machine
CPAPs are great machines that excel at helping to keep the symptoms of sleep apnea in check, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t come with their own pros and cons.
- They’re uncomfortable. Nobody really wants to sleep with a mask on their face, and it can also cause your nose to become stuffy over the course of the night, and may also cause soreness at points of pressure, as well as eye irritation.
- They can be quite noisy. Though some of the newer (and admittedly more expensive models) are designed to keep noise levels at a minimum, most CPAP machines run the risk of disturbing you, as well as your sleeping partner, and maybe even people in nearby rooms.
- You can’t move around as much. You are quite literally tethered to your CPAP machine, so anyone who tends to shift around a lot at night, or sleeps in unusual positions, then you may run into some issues with your CPAP machine. For people that fall under this category, you can try for a longer hose.
- CPAP machine cost can vary greatly. As we mentioned earlier, you can spend as little as $200 or well over $1000.
Benefits of Using a CPAP Machine
- Sleep apnea doesn’t have a cure, but the best CPAP machines will do a splendid job of managing the condition. You’ll snore less, sleep better, and wake up feeling refreshed.
- They’re not difficult to use. As CPAP machine technology has advanced, they have become easier and easier to use. These days, you just pop one on and go to sleep.
- CPAP machines of old were large and bulky, but these days, they’re small, discreet machines, with few weighing more than five pounds. They’re easy to just slip inside your luggage when you’re travelling as well.
- There’s variety. CPAP machines come with various features, and you can definitely find one that fits whatever your budget, as well as your needs.
That’s why having the best CPAP machine available to you is of such importance. Not only will they provide you with a restful night’s sleep, but they will prevent you from allowing your sleep apnea to go unchecked, which could eventually save your life.
Treating Sleep Apnea with a CPAP Machine
Those who suffer from sleep apnea will stop breathing periodically throughout the night, which can lead to a host of different issues, from snoring to restless nights that make you feel groggy throughout the day. Left untreated, sleep apnea symptoms can compound over time and even prove to be life-threatening, making the CPAP an even more important machine.
There are three main types of sleep apnea. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea. With this type, the muscles in the back of your throat relax, and when that happens, your airway collapses and causes your brain to stop getting all the oxygen that it needs.
This briefly wakes you up to correct the issue, and in most instances, such events will occur in a very short amount of time, and you won’t even remember them. However, apnea events can sometimes happen more than 100 times a night, meaning – there’s absolutely no way you’ll ever receive a full rest.
The other type of sleep apnea offers similar results, but the mechanisms at play are different. With central sleep apnea, your brain simply forgets to tell your body to breathe. You’ll have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, and you’ll occasionally wake up with shortness of breath. Sleep apnea itself isn’t life-threatening, but it can lead to complications that may compound over time.
That’s what makes each CPAP machine so important, and why you should always buy the best one that you can afford. Though there are plenty of options, we’ve helped by narrowing it done to the four choices above. If you are looking for the best price, try one of the buttons displayed under each product throughout the article.