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!!

      • Heather Blauweiss Reply

        See a neurologist specifically for headaches. They can give you medications for imidiate relief!!!

  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.

  7. Lenora L Tenney Reply

    Overall, feeling worse on Apap for mild sleep apnea. But I feel that I need to make this work as I had severe desaturations as low as 73 and most of the desats were 81 to 89. also, I have palpitations (no diagnosis there) but they have improved during my attempts at apap. any thoughts? should I continue apap for the severe desaturations?

  8. Bryan Smith Reply

    After completing my sleep study, I spent the night the hospital on a CPAP and woke up the next day feeling AMAZING! Then I got me a CPAP machine and i wake up feeling terrible! Far worse than before! But people want to tell me it takes a month or months to get used to it. Then why did I use it 1 night at the hospital and felt great the next day, and can’t seem to feel great now using mine? It is NOT uncomfortable to me. I don’t take it off at night in my sleep. I sleep the whole night with it. And i have zero air leaks? Now I am wondering if the whole “it takes months” excuse is just a money Scheme because after so many days, the machine cannot be returned. I hear some saying after 10 months they are still feeling bad… obviously, if I can feel better after 1 night on the machine at the hospital, something is not right with my machine, or setting, or SOMETHING!!! Wish i knew what to do.

  9. J Reply

    What a waste of a page… answer some of the questions and concerns here posted by people in real need. Aren’t you the professionals on this?

  10. Thomas smith Reply

    I have been using CPAP for almost 3 months now and has not helped me at all. I have perfect scores every morning on the Resmed app but that means nothing as I continuously sleep for a few hours then the machine wakes me up every night somehow air blowing in my eyes, noisey machine, dry mouth, etc … and can’t go back to sleep but the doctors all say oh give it time. Well after 3 months it obviously is not the answer. It’s just a money maker for them and the machine companies.

  11. Heather Clark Reply

    When I came home with the ResMed that I had rented for 4 weeks,
    I couldn’t wait to get to bed that night.
    What a relief it was to sleep right through the night and to wake up feeling refreshed. I didn’t have any problems at all with the mask or the pressure.

    I was very happy with the ResMed. I didn’t mind the noise at all. It sounded like two very comforting things to me, rain on my roof and my cat breathing next to me. I loved it.

    Then my sleep therapist talked me into buying a Fisher & Paykel CPAP.
    I felt ok for the first 3 weeks but then slowly began to deteriorate. I feel worse now that I did before I started using the CPAP.

    When I am sitting quietly reading or watching TV, I feel so tired that I have microsleeps that last for a few seconds. My head will jerk back as I suddenly wake up.

    If there is a problem with the machine Fisher & Paykel will replace it with a new one but what I really want is the ResMed back again.

    It’s very disappointing to go backwards and I worry about what all of this excessive sleepiness is doing to my health.

  12. Mary Reply

    So was there any answers as to why you feel worse using cpap? Any? After doing all that you are supposed to do, WTF. Answers please, respitory and neurologist give it time your numbers are great, ok is 3 yrs enough time?

  13. Not Happy Reply

    Do the people who write these articles ever actually have to use the cursed machines? I can’t afford less sleep or more miserable nights. CPAP is garbage. I’m tired and cranky (clearly), the straps are itchy, I have had 3 masks so far and I have to stay awake to keep the dang thing positioned right. Pure garbage, and no solution offered except “keep wearing it.” You wear it and tell me how you feel. You couldn’t get enough college to find me a decent answer. I’m wasting time and money and life on this CRAP.

  14. Chris Reply

    Before the cpap, I slept great and woke up feeling well rested. With the cpap, I have wake every morning exhausted, and feel tired all day. Even with a full face mask and humidifier, I get extremely dried out. Before, yeah I got dried out but nowhere neat as bad.

    • George Reply

      That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was alone in this. Wtf is up with this?!??

  15. Karen C. Reply

    Into my second week of CPAP. I sleep wonderfully with it. Good seal, numbers good. I have never been this exhausted in my whole life! I can barely function. Truly, I’m considering taking my chances without it. I can’t live like this! My sleep doctor told me it wasn’t normal to feel that way and a cup of coffee might help! REALLY?? I am going to try sleeping without it tonight and see how I feel tomorrow. I can tell you that I am a Nurse Practitioner and will not be able to continue to practice if I feel like this every day! PS I have MILD sleep apnea but to me have 9 apnea episodes per hour seems like 9 too many, plus I have palpitations that may be a result of the OSA. They are actually worse since I’ve been on the CPAP. I feel marginally better knowing that I am not alone in feeling this bad though!

  16. Daniel Hobbs Reply

    I recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and had a tooth out so stopped using machine for 2 day as mouth was sore
    Now have gone back down hill health wise
    Would there been any reason for this please

  17. Debra Camp Reply

    Where are the replies to these comments. Is anyone here to help??

  18. Nunya Reply

    First 2 nights I slept for 8 hours with cpap and woke refreshed for first time in years. Then every night afterward, I couldn’t bear mask and the pressure. My #hours are down to 4 a night. I am literally unable to exhale on the cpap. It forces air even when my airways arent collapsing in an ‘event’. Now during horribly exhausted days, when Im not on the cpap, i feel like air is being forced into my nose and mouth like a phantom. This has been the worst experience of my life. My doctor won’t address my issues and tells me to take a 20 minute walk during the day. What a p.o.s. quack.

  19. Tramadol Side Effects Reply

    Nice blog. Thanks for sharing such a nice stuff on internet.

  20. David Davis Reply

    I have used the darn things for year’s and when sometimes I feel rested enough other times I am so drowsy I can’t even function and have to miss out on daily activities. It so frustrating I have migraines because of this and my.breathing has worsened. It seems the nights.I get enough sleep and have a 100%/ mask fit is when I feel the worse. Like I said I have.been using them for at least 16 years.

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