Unable to easily breathe through mask

I have MD sleep specialist-diagnosed OSA and and been desperately trying to get CPAP to work for me for the past 2.5 months. I have a Resmed Airsense 10 and Respironics Dreamwear mask. I have tried the nasal Dreamwear and the Gel Cushion cushions. I have only missed one night since I got the equipment.

If I put the mask on when the hose is disconnected from the machine, I feel a LOT of resistance breathing in and out. If I remove the mask, I can instantly breathe easily. The second I put it on feels like I have a clothes pin on my nose. Not a claustrophobic feeling, just can’t breathe.

I’ve seen the doc again and I have seen the CPAP supplier three times about this issue. They just say, “You need to get used to it.” I’m getting 2 or 3 60 minute “naps” per night so I am most definitely not seeing any benefit yet.

Is this how everyone else’s mask feels?

Try the P10 nasal pillow…it is the best!!

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Thanks Jame1s, I’ll take a look at that.

Do you feel any resistance when breathing through it without the machine connected? That seems to be my biggest issue.

I second the suggestion to try the P10 nasal pillows. They’ve worked well for me for the past two years. I think it’s hard to breathe through any mask with the machine turned off. Have you tried turning on the cpap right before putting the mask on?

Why would you put the mask on when the hose is disconnected from the machine? Am I misunderstanding something here?

I get in bed, put the headgear on, turn on the machine and go to sleep. I never disconnect the hose from the machine except to clean it.

If it feels like a clothes pin on your nose, your mask may be too small. I use the P10 nasal pillows as well. They work great. My understanding is; you have to be able to sleep with your mouth shut or use a chin strap in order for the nasal pillows to work well for you.


It sounds like something’s wrong with the mask or the hose. I have tried breathing thru my mask when it’s not connected to the machine, and I can breath easily. I think a trip back to your home health equipment company is in order and see if you can figure this out.

  • Liz

I think @mbutts4901 is experimenting to see if they can figure out what’s wrong; seems perfectly logical to me.

On my part, I used to sometimes disconnect the hose so I could walk across the room for something since I didn’t want to bother with taking the mask off and putting it back on for only a minute. I have also experimented that way, as well, as there are times when my machine just isn’t giving me enough air.

Sometimes my machine is frustrating enough that I’m just thinking, “Can’t sleep with it; can’t sleep without it!” :roll_eyes:

  • Liz
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@liz4cps is correct. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air with the machine, so I disconnected just to see what it was like. All I get from the doctor and the CPAP supplier is “You just have to get used to it” which is very frustrating.

If I got 2-3 60-minute naps per night, for 2-1/2 months, I would be a basket case! So what if the mask feels constrictive when you have the hose disconnected…it’s not made to be used without the hose and forced air! All masks feel this way in my experience. Do you still have that clothespin feeling when you start your machine? If yes, then it’s possible your mask is either adjusted too tight (pinching your nostrils), or is too small (the same effect). It is also possible your settings are not adjusted with enough pressure to keep your nostrils open. Check with your supplier on this. Or, perhaps you need a bipap instead of a cpap. I have a Dreamstation bipap machine, and it blows air in at a setting of 12 when I’m inhaling, and blows air in at a setting of 8 when I am exhaling. This is to keep my nostrils open 100 percent of the time. Also, the Dreamstation has an app for your phone that tells you quite a bit of information about your night: AHI, hours of usage, and % mask fit. My fitbit keeps track of my sleep also. It’s possible you are getting more sleep than you think, but you are not getting good sleep because you are still getting used to being on a cpap! I check my hours of sleep on my fitbit, and my hours of mask usage on the Dreamstation app. You need something other than your own memory to keep track. I’ve had days when I woke up tired, but my devices tell me I’ve clearly had 7 hours sleep. It took me 4-5 months to get used to the machine, especially because I could hear Darth Vader every time I woke up, and it’s not a pleasant sound. If your supplier cannot fit you with a breathable mask, get a different supplier. Good luck.

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Thanks for everyone’s input, I’m getting some good feedback here!

For the first month, I kept a log at my bedside to write down times I woke up. Just a quick glance at the clock and scribbled the time. I knew I wouldn’t remember in the morning.

I spoke to Philips Respironics today and they said the same thing as @shuggeman and the mask is designed to be used under pressure so using it disconnected really doesn’t tell me anything.

My Resmed machine spits out a lot of data, but nothing that shows I’m asleep. I’ll take a look at some sleep monitors to see if I’m getting more sleep than I feel.

I spoke to my doctor about the bipap and he wants me to go to the sleep shrink for behavioral modification. I think I have behavior down cold: sleep/wake, sleep/wake, etc. until 4 a.m. when I’m good and awake.


Thank you to everyone for sharing experiences~


@mbutts4901 - It’s great that you took that initiative logging those earlier experiences. Much information comes forth to new patients, and they are very wise to jot things down in case they forget! A lot of info coming at a new patient all at once.

I use the wisp. I love it! I tried dreamwear mask and didn’t like it. Hope you find something that helps you get some sleep!

Dear Butts,. I feel you either change doctors (pulmonary), or write a letter to every CEO who is in charge of each mask company that manufactures the products. Other than that, try a a different one, this may help.

I finally reached the point when I went into research mode. I was relying too much on what the DME suggested and the doctor really didn’t have any input on mask selection.

It looks like it’s common to have mask fit issues, masks falling off, and waking often while on CPAP so I’m no longer getting upset when I don’t get a full night’s sleep. I will continue the journey to find equipment will work.

Hi mbutts4901.

On reading your article here, it seems to me your pressure setting may well be wrong, firstly get that sorted because if the pressure is to high your going to have many problem with your mask, no matter which one you use.

May I suggest you try and use The ResMed **Mirage Quattro™ Full Face CPAP Mask with Headgear, I had used this mask at the start of my treatment and found I to was having great problems thinking it was the mask, and tried many other different masks in the meantime trying to solve the problem, but they never worked,eventually my sleep specialist told me about sorting out the pressure and recommended going back to the above said mask., it worked.
well good luck for the future, hope you get it sorted.

If you feel resistance through your mask without the machine connected, I would take that as a sign of not a proper mask fit.

It took awhile for me to find comfortable and proper fitting masks, I went through like 3 or 4 of them until I settled on an airfit f30. That one has a mouth piece and nasal pillow combo. I picked this mask because full face headgear just doesn’t work for me. Evidently I don’t like anything on my forehead while I’m sleeping😆. This one works for me so I can read in bed, gradually get tired and sleep.

Thanks for your reply. You are correct. It took calling the head of University of Michigan Sleep Health & having a hissy fit over my poor treatment. I was finally fitted by an experienced tech (not the doofus at the DME) & was finally instructed how to properly wear the mask. This was my fourth mask paid out of pocket.

After 6 months of no sleep, paying thousands of dollars, and constantly being told that I’m doing it wrong, I stopped CPAP therapy. I’m using Dr. Gominak’s RightSleep treatment. I sleep 7+ hours every night.