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Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can be difficult for people who prefer to sleep on their sides, but the right mask can make it much easier.

Side sleeping is the most common sleep position, so manufacturers have designed several masks that are suitable for the job. No single mask is appropriate for every CPAP user, but matching your needs and preferences with a mask style enables you to find a comfortable and effective option.

After introducing you to some of the best CPAP masks for side sleepers, we’ll explain the differences between different mask styles, what to look for in a mask, and other steps you can take to sleep comfortably on your side while wearing a CPAP mask.

Why We Picked These

We selected our featured CPAP masks based on in-depth research into customer experiences, mask construction, features, brand trust, and supply chain issues. Our team has decades of combined experience with CPAP products, giving us the insight essential to direct readers towards the products that work best for their needs. We do the research, leverage our expertise, and contextualize our findings to make shopping for CPAP products as easy as possible.

What You Should Consider When Choosing a CPAP Mask for Side Sleeping

It can be difficult to find the right CPAP mask when you prefer to sleep on your side, but understanding what to look for and consider can help you choose the best option for you.

CPAP Mask Considerations for Side Sleepers

PriceMost headgear and mask sets cost around $100 to $150, but replacement parts can vary in price significantly. It’s worth calculating the yearly cost for the necessary replacement parts before you make your purchase. Your insurance may also cover some of the associated costs, so you might want to investigate what is included and how to make a claim.
Size and FitMasks usually come in small, medium, and large, though some brands offer non-standard sizes, such as wide options. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also be able to order a set of cushions in different sizes to determine what fits you the best.
CompatibilityAlthough nearly all CPAP machines are compatible with all CPAP masks, some specialized machines may require you to use a specific mask model. Before purchasing a CPAP mask, double-check your machine’s specifications.
CPAP PillowPillows designed for use with CPAP therapy are excellent options for side sleepers. Cutouts leave room for a CPAP mask and tubing while stabilizing the sleeper’s position. Depending on the shape of the CPAP pillow, some masks may work better with the pillow than others.
CPAP ChinstrapAlthough nasal masks and nasal pillow masks are the most comfortable options for most side sleepers, full face masks work much better for people who breathe through their mouths. A CPAP chinstrap gently holds the mouth closed to reduce mouth breathing, potentially making nasal masks and nasal pillow masks viable options.
ComfortEveryone wants a comfortable CPAP mask, but what is comfortable for one person may not work for another. To find the right mask for you, ask your health care team for personalized advice and consider a wide range of mask options. A secure fit that doesn’t dig in is usually best. Many people have to try more than one mask before they discover what works for them.
Quality MaterialsAll masks need to be replaced regularly, but choosing a well-made mask and headgear set ensures you can use it for its full lifespan. High-quality materials also lead to a more comfortable and effective mask.

Are There Benefits to Side Sleeping With a CPAP Mask?

Even though many CPAP masks make it hard to sleep on your side, side sleeping is generally the best position for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleeping on your back or stomach can cause more airway obstruction caused by gravity pulling on your airway tissues, while side sleeping helps negate this effect.

Types of CPAP Masks for Side Sleepers

Full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillow masks are the three most common styles of CPAP masks. Each may be more or less suitable for an individual depending on a range of factors, including but not limited to their preferred sleep position.

Your health care team is your best source for information when deciding on a CPAP mask style. They can take your individual needs and preferences into account to determine what style will provide the best balance of comfort and effectiveness.

Nasal Mask

Nasal masks are usually triangular, with one point at the bridge of the nose and the bottom two points resting above the upper lip. This style is a popular middle ground between the robustness of a full face mask and the comfort of a nasal pillow mask

Benefits:You Shouldn’t Use One If:
  • Lower profile than a full face mask and more comfortable for side sleeping
  • Wide variety of styles and models to choose from
  • Works well for a range of air pressure settings
  • You want or need to wear glasses while using your CPAP machine
  • You have facial hair, particularly a mustache
  • You breathe through your mouth and don’t find a chinstrap effective

Nasal Pillow Mask

Instead of delivering pressurized air via a plastic mask, nasal pillow masks use a silicone cushion with inserts that rest inside the nostrils. The cushion is then held in place by the headgear. While not right for everyone, nasal pillow masks are among the most popular options for side sleepers.

Benefits:You Shouldn’t Use One If:
  • Can achieve a tight seal even if the user has facial hair
  • Extremely low profile makes it more suitable for people with claustrophobia
  • Less likely to cause red marks or skin irritation
  • You breathe through your mouth or have chronic sinus congestion
  • You require higher air pressure levels than nasal pillows are rated for
  • You have regular nosebleeds from nasal dryness

Full Face Mask

Full face masks are a traditional form of CPAP mask that covers both the nose and mouth. While bulkier and less comfortable for side sleepers than other options, full face masks come in a range of styles that allow users to choose what works best for them.

Benefits:You Shouldn’t Use One If:
  • Accommodates people who breathe through their mouths while asleep
  • Suitable for those with allergy symptoms
  • Allows high air pressure settings
  • You have facial hair
  • You are claustrophobic
  • You consistently sleep on your side and find it difficult to fall asleep on your back

Do You Need a Prescription for a CPAP Mask?

Just like CPAP machines, CPAP masks require a prescription to purchase. The FDA considers CPAP masks Class II devices, meaning they require an intermediate level of control to ensure patient safety. CPAP mask components, such as replacement pillows, can be purchased without a prescription. 

Will Health Insurance or Medicare Cover the Cost of Your CPAP Mask?

Many insurance carriers provide partial coverage for CPAP masks because they are considered durable medical equipment. However, some expenses are nonreimbursable, and there are generally limits on how frequently you can replace parts. Co-pays and deductibles may apply, and there may be authorization requirements. Check your insurance plan documents to learn the policies. You may also want to reach out to the insurance company for more information.

How you file a claim depends on the insurer. You may be able to buy your mask through an in-network provider, then submit a claim to your insurance carrier along with a copy of your receipt and prescription. Your insurance company should have a designated claims form.

Medicare may also cover a portion of your mask purchase for qualifying patients. Once you meet your part B deductible, Medicare covers up to 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for CPAP supplies, including CPAP masks. You must purchase from an approved supplier and show compliance. 

Where Can You Buy a CPAP Mask for Side Sleeping?

CPAP masks can be purchased from a sleep specialist, a brick-and-mortar CPAP store, or an online CPAP retailer.

Some side sleepers prefer to purchase their mask through their specialist or at a brick-and-mortar store because these options usually provide more opportunities for personalized advice and support. Others favor the low prices and wide selections of online CPAP retailers.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPAP Masks for Side Sleeping

Choosing a new CPAP mask can be confusing even for those who have purchased a mask previously. If you have any concerns or questions about what option you should choose, your healthcare team can help you find the best mask for you.

Can you sleep on your side with a CPAP mask?

While it is technically possible to sleep on your side with any type of CPAP mask, most full face masks and some nasal masks are uncomfortable when worn in this position. The position can also compromise the seal on some masks, making your therapy less effective.

Choosing a low-profile mask with soft or flexible headgear can make side sleeping much more comfortable. CPAP pillows with cut-outs are another option for side sleepers, particularly those who need to use a full face mask.

How do you wear your hair with a CPAP mask when side sleeping?

Side sleepers with long hair may pull their hair back or use a head cover with their CPAP mask. Scarves, sleep caps, bonnets, and specialized CPAP caps are all common solutions to help prevent matting and tangling.

Some people find head covers uncomfortably warm during the night. To stay cool, consider choosing a lightweight cap made of a breathable fabric, such as cotton.

How do you clean a CPAP mask?

Hand washing with soap and warm water is the best way to clean a CPAP mask and headgear. This helps remove skin oils, dirt, and debris without damaging the components. The soap should be gentle and free from additives, such as moisturizers, which may otherwise build up on the mask or attract dirt. After you’re done washing, allow the components to air dry before using them again.

CPAP masks and headgear should be cleaned at least weekly, while cushions should be cleaned daily. Allowing dirt and germs to build up on your mask could increase the risk of illness and jeopardize the seal.

How often should you change your CPAP mask?

Most experts suggest that the entire CPAP mask, including the headgear, should be replaced every three to six months. You should also replace the cushion at least once a month, though some prefer to switch it out more often.

If you see signs of wear or damage on the mask or any of its components, replace it as soon as possible regardless of whether it’s due. Damaged equipment may make your PAP therapy less effective.