Why You Feel Worse After CPAP Therapy and What To Do About It

Man with CPAP Mask

So you’ve recently been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and after the diagnostic process have been prescribed a CPAP Machine by your doctor. This solution to your health condition gives you hope for a better night’s sleep and an overall improvement in your long term health. However, if you’re like many newbies to CPAP therapy, you may be wondering why your symptoms haven’t improved or even worsened upon use.

We want to encourage you to not lose heart, as there are things you can do to get comfortable with your machine. Becoming educated on your treatment and staying compliant will be key to getting the rest your body needs. We have created a list of the most common CPAP concerns to new users and our recommended solutions.

Symptom: “I can’t get used to wearing the device.”

Solution: There’s no reason why you have to wait until bedtime to put on the mask. Practice getting your body used to the feeling of the mask at different points in the day. Think of this as training for a sporting event or learning how to play an instrument. Take baby steps to build that muscle memory, so come show time, it feels natural. Once you’ve practiced wearing the mask, move onto taking naps with the device and stick to wearing it all night.

Symptom: “My mouth/nose is so dry.”

Solution: Sometimes this can happen if you sleep with your mouth open. This can increase mouth dryness. We recommend getting any of the following items to reduce dryness in the mouth or nose: a chin strap, a full-face mask or a humidifier specifically designed for CPAP machines.

Symptom: “I accidently remove the mask in my sleep.”

Solution: There could be a variety of reasons why this is happening. If you are able, try to identify why you subconsciously take the mask off. You may need to alter the type of mask you are wearing to find a better fit for your face shape, or change the elevation of your sleeping position. Another solution might be to set an alarm throughout the night to ensure that you still have the mask on. You can space out the alarm more and more as you become acclimated to the device.

Symptom: “I can’t seem to tolerate forced air.”

Solution: Training your body to accept forced air can be an adjustment. If you are finding this to be a persisting issue, you may want to consider a device that automatically increases the pressure while you sleep.

Many of these symptoms can be alleviated by making sure you have a mask that works best for your preferences and face shape. There are a variety of options available that we would be happy to help you find.

Moreover, we can’t stress enough the importance of sticking with CPAP Therapy. It can take time to adjust, but small changes can help you to get the full cycle of sleep that your health requires. Staying compliant and remembering why you’ve committed to your long term health can help you stay the course in your sleeping journey. Change won’t happen overnight! If you’re still having issues after trying the above tips, reach out to our experts for a consultation.



  1. Rosita Lou Reply

    Most of the time my mouth and nostrils become too dry by early morning. I live in a relatively dry area (southern California) on a hill. I do have a humidifier in the bedroom, besides the CPAP humidifier. On certain days, the humidifier in the bedroom indicates 44% humidity, and I have set the CPAP humidifier to 86 degrees F, and humidity indicator to the highest level (8), and I still wake up with overdry nostrils and mouth. I do use a chin wrap, but it often slips loose.

  2. Di Huey Reply

    I feel so much worse in the morning. I am not bothered by the sound or the mask; my mask fit has been 100% and my AHI has been between .1 and 1.4 for the entire length of use (according the machine stats).

    It’s been two weeks. I am so exhausted, and cry all the time because I feel so awful. I have had a horrible headache since day 1 and just can’t get any rest.

    • Cathy Reply

      While I never got consistently good ahi scores, my leaks were 0-3…. I bagged it after a month

      Headaches were horrible every day I was on it. My naturopath suggested that since I have Lyme disease, it could be like I was in hyperbaric chamber with much oxygen. Oxygen kills Lyme bacteria and perhaps it was a reaction to the flood of die off.
      Either way, I opted for a extra strong breathe right strip, something called Mute which I get at cvs or Walgreens to open nasal passages and taped my mouth to stop me from mouth breathing.

      I wake up far more refreshed and no headaches lasting all day

      Cpap is not for everyone esp those with mild osa

    • Chris Reply

      2 days into my new “routine” and I am right there with you. Not quite to the crying point, but extremely frustrated. The headache is nearly unbearable!!

  3. Lily Reply

    It’s a relief to read your post, Di. I have also recently begun using a CPAP machine but have ended up feeling so much worse during the day and I just don’t understand why. During the first week and a half, I was getting up quicker in the mornings which was great but over the 2 weeks following that, it has become a very different story. The readings on the machine suggest everything should be ok but I feel absolutely awful, even more sleepy than usual, and can’t concentrate on anything for longer than 10 minutes. So much so that I’ve taken a couple of days off work to try to rest. I have also been tearful, which I hadn’t actually linked to this but I guess it makes sense! Looking forward to a catch-up at the hospital next week as I’m at a loss about what to do to feel better. Ideas welcomed!

  4. Suzanne Rouse Reply

    I felt much better the first few months after CPAP. Suddenly a few months ago I started feeling like I did before CPAP. Machine has been checked, data good, have tried a diff mask that’s full face in case opening mouth…nobody has any answers. I admit I have not been good about cleaning my equipment, and I know that can affect it, but I find it hard to believe that could make this huge difference. (I have Fibromyalgia and a host of other medical problems and have ballooned up in weight this summer).

  5. Jacqueline Harmon Reply

    I have been getting used to the CPAP since last May 2019. While my energy is always low, I sleep much better and longer without the machine. Because I suffer with chronic allergic rhinitis and a blocked nostril flare-up at bedtime, I feel suffocated by the forced air. The nasal mask I am using leaks and my mouth won’t stay closed. That wakes me up. When the warm forced air turns to cold, it jolts me awake, gives me insomnia, sinus irritation/congestion, and bowel issues, which cause me to take the next day off from work. I am going to try using a full mask with a chin strap before giving up the CPAP completely. But the CPAP hasn’t been helpful, so far.

  6. Dennis pierce Reply

    Had a CPAP just 2 weeks.
    Today did heavy work dismantling an armchair to get it out the doorway.
    I was shattered.
    Out of breath and tired every couple minutes or so.
    Getting on for 80 so not a lot of stamina but feel a lot worse than usual now.

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