Australia is well-known and loved for its warm sun and balmy days, even during winter. While it’s great for the thriving beach culture, it can make sleeping at night difficult, especially for CPAP users.
When it’s hot, all we want to do is throw off all of our sheets, because lying in a bed can be sweaty and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, wearing a mask over your face doesn’t help matters, and can further prevent you from getting a restful night’s sleep.
For your CPAP therapy to be effective, it’s important to continue to use your machine every night, despite being tempted to leave the mask off when those temperatures start escalating. However, using your CPAP machine in hot weather is easier than you may think.
To assist you, we have compiled this blog to provide you with more information and some handy tips on managing your CPAP therapy to try to make you feel more comfortable throughout those warmer nights.
Temperature Impact on Sleep
Room and body temperature has a significant impact on our sleep, so getting this right is important, first and foremost.
Sleep consists of several stages1, with the first being where you transition from consciousness and into light sleep. During the following stages, the body’s core temperature generally needs to drop by about two to three degrees2 to reach the state of deep sleep. However, if our core temperature is too high, the brain cannot clearly differentiate the transition between the states of awake and sleep, which directly impacts how effectively we rest.
Surrounding temperature can affect our core temperature, meaning that how hot or cold your room is can have a direct influence.
In general, it has been found that around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is ideal2,3, and that’s because this range is the most complementary to the cooler temperatures your core experiences during the middle of the night. The low temperatures ensure that your body doesn’t warm up earlier and therefore transition too quickly out of the deep sleep stages, thus promoting a more restful night.
Therefore, the ideal conditions for getting the best rest is when it’s dark, quiet and cool.
So, what do you do when it’s warm?
Your CPAP Mask: the positives and negatives in hot weather
When you’re a CPAP Device user, the effects of higher temperatures can both help and hinder your sleep every night.
The mask is an essential part of your CPAP therapy, but it can trap the heat in around your face and neck when you’re trying to keep cool, especially if it is the silicon version that covers your mouth and nose. The added pressure and contact with your face also prevents adequate airflow over your skin, causing you to sweat and potentially feel uncomfortable. This can raise your body temperature and make you restless, which directly impacts on your quality of sleep.
Despite this, CPAP users often find that the warmer weather offers some welcome relief due to the increased moisture in the air, as opposed to the drier winter months.
Humidity can be a godsend for CPAP users, because during the summer, the warm air can provide plenty of moisture to make breathing much more comfortable, as it doesn’t dry out your mouth, nose and throat. But even this has its limit, as too much moisture in the air can fill the tubing and mask with condensation, causing your device to make a spluttering noise and even splash water on your face through your mask, waking you up.
So, in order to get the best sleep, you need to find ways to balance all of these factors to make you feel at ease each night. Luckily, there are simple and handy tips that can help you manage your CPAP therapy best when it’s hot.
(1) Dealing with Excessive Moisture when using your CPAP Mask
Your CPAP machine may feature a humidifier which adds more moisture into the air that you are breathing, to help manages dryness. In general, warmer weather has increased humidity, which means that you can turn down this feature. The extra moisture from the air in your bedroom passes through your machine and into your airways, and is much easier to breath than the drier air that most users have to deal with during the winter months. However, there are some instances where you should keep your humidifier turned up regardless of the season.
For example, if you live in a drier part of Australia, or if the temperature inside your home is warmer than outside (which can often be the case), you will want to make sure your humidifier is running at a level to prevent your sinuses and passageways from drying out overnight.
Excessive moisture can lead to condensation build-up in the mask and hose, known as ‘rainout’, which can make you feel uncomfortable.
There are several ways to help you manage this:
- Try turning your humidifier level down
- Place the CPAP on the floor or in a lower position, so that the excess moisture doesn’t run into the mask and splash your face
- Use a tubing such as the ClimateLineAirTM heated tube to enable constant temperature and humidity control.
These tips will help keep humidity under control so that you can breathe easier without excessive moisture forming in your mask during the night while you sleep.
(2) Using chilled water in the humidifier
Some CPAP users struggle during the warm weather as they find that breathing through the mask creates moist, sweaty conditions within the silicon shell.
However, a useful trick is to keep distilled water in the refrigerator in smaller containers. Just prior to getting into bed, this chilled water can be placed into the humidifier chamber, before setting it to a low or even off setting. This results in breathing colder air which still carries moisture, but doesn’t heat up and cause rainout, steam or sweat.
It is worth experimenting with, as it can be different for each person, but this handy tip can help keep excessive heat under control while avoiding drying out your mouth, nose and throat.
Some people try freezing the distilled water into a more solid form, but the problem with this is that it doesn't convert back into vapour fast enough to be effective when initially trying to fall asleep. Additionally, ice chips may cause damage to the equipment so we don't advise this.
The best way it to put a smaller container of distilled water in the freezer for a short time until it gets really cold but not frozen.
Just remember, use distilled water when doing this, as it removes some of the minerals, contaminants and living organisms which could affect your health or damage your CPAP device. If you cannot access distilled water, bottled water is your best option.
(3) Using Mask Liners
One of the main forms of discomfort when using a CPAP mask during the night is the pressing of the edges down onto your face. This can prevent natural airflow which would normally keep the skin cool around your nose and mouth.
A mask liner is a simple, and effective addition to your mask that can help alleviate some of the annoying symptoms of a hot night on your therapy.
These handy accessories act as a barrier between the silicone of your mask’s cushion and the skin of your face, releasing the pressure and allowing heat to disperse, solving a lot of the most common problems you may experience.
They can help improve your comfort in a practical way, and can be easily applied depending on the temperature each night.
(4) Using a different mask
Not all masks are the same, and if you believe that your mask is the main reason behind the problems you’re experiencing during the hotter seasons, it may be time to speak to us about finding a better alternative to suit your needs.
For example, if you are a full face mask user you may want to try other types of mask which cover less of your face such as the nasal pillow mask and the regular nasal mask.
A nasal pillow mask rests at the entrance of your nostrils, while a nasal mask covers the nose. Both of these are less intrusive and may help manage your comfort better on warmer nights.
The mask type that best suits you depends greatly on personal requirements and preferences. Some factors that you may want to take into consideration, in addition to temperature, are your facial anatomy, the presence of any facial hair, and even if know yourself to be a little claustrophobic.
Each mask has its own benefits and use, and you should discuss these with us, so you can try on various mask styles and decide which is best for you. Don’t forget to tell them that the reason you are looking for alternatives is to help you manage heat, so that they can work towards the best outcome.
A great alternative for the full face mask user in the hot weather is the ResMed AirTouch F20 Mask with memory foam cushion.
Designed to be light, unobtrusive and easy to use, the AirTouch F20 is the first ResMed mask to use UltraSoftTM memory foam cushion technology for the perfect blend of comfort and performance. With a soft flexible frame and magnetic headgear clips, the AirTouch F20 delivers unprecedented comfort even during warmer nights, by featuring a breathable vented seal and quick release mechanism.
Its modular frame design allows you to discover the best option to suits your needs, by providing you with the ability to conveniently switch between AirTouch F20 memory foam and AirFit F20 InfinitySeal cushions, without removing the mask frame.
Find out more about ResMed AirTouch F20.
(5) Make your surroundings colder
The simplest solution to help you sleep better at night on CPAP therapy when it’s hot is to make your bedroom colder at night.
Use a fan to move the air around, or if you have air conditioning in your bedroom turn this on before sleeping to make the room’s temperature more conducive to the body’s natural sleeping requirements.
While this may dry out the air somewhat, the cooler climate will mitigate any of the negative conditions of excessive heat on your therapy, and then you can compensate by using your device’s humidifier function to moisten the air that you breathe.
We hope that these tips and tricks will better prepare you for those warmer nights, to that you can rest easy and in comfort.
Want to know more about CPAP Machines and Accessories?
Understanding what mask options are available, how CPAP machines work, and how you can get the best treatment outcomes from your device can help you to make the right choice when you’re ready to select a sleep apnea therapy machine.
ResMed’s free eBook, ‘Your Ultimate Guide to CPAP Machines’ will help you to select the right machine by providing you with detailed information on all of your options.
Download the eBook today for a better night’s sleep!
(1) Health Direct, Australia. ‘The Stages Of Sleep’. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stages-of-sleep. Accessed 3 June 2017.
(2) The Australian. ‘For a better night’s sleep, you’ve got to really work on that core (temperature)’. Feb 2016. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/health-wellbeing/for-a-better-nights-sleep-youve-got-to-really-work-on-that-core-temperature/news-story/34fa8c4fa2a795d0cc447cabc24d9606. Accessed 10 February, 2018.
(3) Sleep.org. ‘The Ideal Temperature For Sleep’. https://sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/. Accessed 10 February, 2018.