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People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) gasp, choke, or stop breathing while they sleep. This can cause excessive sleepiness, irritability, and difficulty maintaining concentration. Those with untreated OSA may also be at risk for serious conditions like heart disease, cognitive problems, and depression. 

Though there are multiple treatments for sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is one of the most effective ways to mitigate symptoms in people with OSA. CPAP therapy is a method of opening a sleeper’s obstructed breathing passages by delivering a consistent amount of pressurized air through a face mask. 

We’ll take a close look at some of the best CPAP machines on the market today and how to choose one. You’ll learn about the features specific to each model, as well as their pros and cons. We’ll also cover best practices for owning a CPAP machine, from cleaning guidelines and insurance considerations to CPAP accessories and data tracking. 

Why We Picked These

Our team of sleep product experts regularly researches CPAP machines and other products that treat sleep apnea to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. Our knowledge and expertise within the sleep industry ensures that we’re able to provide comprehensive information that makes shopping for a CPAP machine easier. 

We take all of a machine’s features and functions into consideration when recommending it to our readers. We also keep abreast of what machines are in stock and which devices have been recalled. Our top picks are devices with a successful track record from trusted brands that have consistently high customer reviews.

What You Should Consider When Choosing a CPAP Machine

Selecting the correct CPAP machine is important. In addition to expense, there are other factors like noise level, available settings, and extra features to think about. We’ll help you learn what you should consider when shopping for a CPAP machine.

Pricing and Sizing

CPAP machines vary in price depending on what kind of features they offer, their size, and their noise level. Most CPAP machines cost between $350 and $1,000, though prices can reach $3,000 for specialized options. Keep in mind that some insurance plans may partially or completely cover the cost of a CPAP machine.

Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) devices often cost more because they have intricate pressure settings. These machines can cost up to $6,000. 

Most devices are small enough to rest on your nightstand and light enough that you can lift them easily with one hand. Though exact sizes vary, many machines are less than 12 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 6 inches tall. Most machines weigh less than 5 pounds. Make sure to factor your tubing and humidifier into space requirements before making your purchase.

Noise Level

CPAP machines measure noise level using A-weighted decibels (dBA), which is a common unit of noise measurement for frequencies that correspond with the auditory capacity of the human ear.

The average CPAP machine has a 30 dBA rating, which is similar to someone whispering nearby. The quietest CPAP machines can have ratings as low as 25 dBA. Many manufacturers design their machines to be as quiet as possible. 

Pressure Ranges and Ramp Settings

Each CPAP user has a specific pressure setting prescribed by their doctor. Most CPAP machines have pressure settings that can deliver between 4 and 20 centimeters of water pressure (cm H2O).

Some CPAP machines have a ramp setting, which starts therapy with lower pressure and gradually ramps it up as you fall asleep. This feature can make it easier to settle into bed and get accustomed to the pressurized air. 

Data Tracking and Smart Features

You can opt for a CPAP machine that tracks your sleep data. Some allow you to view reports directly on their interfaces, while others connect to a corresponding smartphone app. Though specifics can vary between machines, they all typically track how many hours you slept, the effectiveness of your mask’s seal, and the number of apnea events that occurred during sleep. 

These measurements allow you to provide your doctor with tangible data to better control your sleep apnea. You can also use this information to set benchmarks to help improve long-term sleep apnea symptoms. 

Leveraging Smart Features

In addition to standard functions like pressure and ramp settings, you can purchase a CPAP machine with extra features like heated tubing, humidifier heaters, and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. 

Using a CPAP humidifier can help you stick with the therapy, as the extra moisture increases therapy adherence for many sleepers. Heated tubing and preheating options keep the humidifier’s water at a comfortable temperature. Additionally, these features can help ensure you don’t experience rainout, which is when condensation settles in your mask and leaves your face damp upon awakening.

Do You Need a Prescription for a CPAP Machine?

A prescription is required to purchase and use a CPAP machine. The first step to addressing sleep apnea is to speak with your physician. If they think it’s necessary, your doctor will set up a sleep study that measures your breathing and tracks how many apneic and hypopneic events you have while sleeping. An apnea is when breathing stops, while hypopneas refer to episodes of shallow breathing. 

Following this study, your doctor may order a CPAP titration study, in which you are connected to a CPAP machine overnight in a sleep lab to determine your ideal CPAP pressure settings. After these initial steps, your doctor may prescribe you a CPAP machine. 

Where Can You Buy a CPAP Machine?

After you get a prescription from your doctor, you can purchase a CPAP machine. Your prescription will dictate which type of machine you can purchase, then you can decide whether to shop in a store or online. Your insurance plan may also stipulate where you can purchase your device.

CPAP machine manufacturers have authorized retailers that sell their products. Some of these are only online and ship directly to the consumer, while others allow you to shop at a brick-and-mortar store. 

Medical device stores allow you to shop in person and see a device before committing to it. However, they tend to have fewer choices than online retailers. 

Will Your Insurance Cover the Cost of a CPAP Machine?

Most insurance plans cover at least a portion of CPAP machine costs. However, you may be responsible for necessary accessories like masks, tubing, and filters. Before determining an amount of coverage, your insurance provider may look at your apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), a measurement of the average number of times you stop breathing or breathe shallowly in an hour.

Some insurance companies cover the device upon purchase, while others have rent-to-own or reimbursement strategies. Many insurers have a compliance period, during which they require proof that you’re regularly using your CPAP machine according to your prescription.

Does Medicare Cover Your CPAP Machine Costs?

Medicare may cover portions of CPAP machine costs as long as you follow specific guidelines. Following a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, Medicare may cover a three-month trial period. Once you meet your Part B deductible, you will be responsible for a 20% copay covering the machine rental cost and the purchase of CPAP supplies like masks and tubing over a 13-month period after the end of the trial. You’ll own the machine outright after making the rental payments for 13 months and continuously using your machine correctly during that period.

You must be enrolled in Medicare to qualify. Check with your physician and insurance provider for exact terms.

CPAP Accessories and Compatibility

Certain CPAP accessories are necessary for therapy. You can’t use your CPAP machine without a mask and connective tubing. In addition to these essential components, there are other accessories that can help make CPAP therapy more effective and comfortable.

CPAP Pillows

CPAP pillows have specific designs meant to accommodate CPAP masks. These pillows have strategic shapes or cutouts that allow you to sleep comfortably without causing your mask to leak, slip off, or press too deeply into your skin.



You must regularly clean your CPAP machine, mask, tubing, and other accessories. While there are multiple types of CPAP wipes and sanitizers on the market, it is still recommended to frequently clean your device’s components with mild soap and warm water. 

The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned consumers about CPAP cleaners that use ozone gas and ultraviolet light, as these products haven’t been approved by the FDA and may pose health risks.


CPAP filters help protect both your lungs and CPAP machine from impurities. You can purchase disposable or nondisposable CPAP filters. Some machines have specific filters you must use, so check your device’s instructions for exact specifications.

External Batteries

An external battery safeguards against power outages or surges. You can also use an external battery when you don’t have access to a power outlet, such as when traveling or camping.


CPAP humidifiers help keep your throat and nose moist by increasing the humidity of the pressurized air. Some machines have built-in humidifiers, while others require an external device.


Hosing connects your CPAP machine to your mask. You can purchase hosing in many different lengths. If you wake up with water inside your mask, you may want to purchase heated tubing, which is designed to cut down on condensation.


While CPAP masks come with headgear to ensure the mask stays in place while you sleep, many retailers also sell headgear separately. There are multiple types of masks, including full-face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillows, so be sure to check compatibility before purchasing supplemental headgear.

Compatibility of Your CPAP Device With Accessories

There are many different companies that manufacture CPAP machines and accessories, with numerous models and product styles between them. As a result, you need to ensure that the machine and accessories you choose are compatible with one another. Choosing products from the same manufacturer can help cut down on compatibility issues and ensure your CPAP therapy is effective. 

Types of Sleep Apnea Machines: CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP

While CPAP therapy is typically the first-line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, some people don’t respond well to the continuous pressure or have difficulty using their machine consistently due to discomfort. In these scenarios, a doctor may prescribe either automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP).


Most CPAP machines have pressure settings that range between 4 and 20 cm H2O. Once you settle on a setting with your doctor, the machine delivers the same amount of pressure throughout the night. Some machines have ramp functions that gradually increase the pressure level to ease users into their nightly CPAP therapy.

Travel CPAP

Travel CPAP machines function the same way as traditional CPAP machines, but they are smaller, more portable, and sometimes FAA-compliant for use on airplanes. Certain machines also have portable battery packs and flexible charging options.


BiPAP machines use two different pressure settings. The air pressure is higher when you inhale than it is when you exhale. BiPAP machines typically have a wider pressure range than CPAP machines, with available settings between 4 and 25 cm H2O — and some going as high as 30 cm H2O. BiPAP is often considered a good option for people who need high pressure settings greater than 15 cm H2O.


An APAP machine measures how much air you need at any given moment and automatically adjusts the air pressure accordingly. Like BiPAP machines, the pressure can change to accommodate differing pressure needs when inhaling and exhaling. Some users find APAP machines more comfortable, leading to better therapy adherence.

Frequently Asked CPAP Machines Questions

CPAP machines have intricate designs and multiple parts, which can lead to confusion for some first-time users. We’ll address some of the most commonly asked CPAP machine questions. 

What does a CPAP machine do when you stop breathing?

People with obstructive sleep apnea have difficulty breathing while they sleep due to a physical blockage in the upper airway caused by their tongue or the collapse of airway tissues. A CPAP machine delivers a constant stream of pressurized air that forces the airway to stay open, thus minimizing the number of breathing disturbances.

Can you use purified water in a CPAP machine?

Many CPAP machines come equipped with humidifiers that add moisture to the pressurized air to help prevent potential side effects such as dry mouth. To prevent the buildup of limescale deposits and potentially harmful bacteria, you should use distilled water instead of purified water in your CPAP humidifier.

Distillation involves boiling water and condensing the vapor back to liquid. This process ensures that minerals, impurities, and bacteria are removed. While purified water is filtered to remove chemicals, it could still have mineral content that is safe to drink but prone to causing buildup in your machine. 

How do you clean the inside of a CPAP machine?

You should clean your CPAP machine daily using mild soap and warm water. First, check that your machine is unplugged, then disassemble the power base, mask, and tubing. Wash the inside and outside of the tubing by submerging it in warm soapy water. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations when washing hoses with electrical components. 

Wash your mask — including its headgear, cushion, and frame — with mild soap and water, ensuring that you clean any facial or hair oils off the surface. If your CPAP machine includes a humidifier, clean the humidifier by soaking it with one part white vinegar and one part water. Rinse all accessories with water and air dry before reassembling your device.

Medical Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a health care provider prior to starting a new treatment or making changes to your treatment plan.