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!!!

    • Charlie Reply

      I feel like I been doing hard running all night. I use bipap. Everything is tolerable from a fit perspective, but it tries to breath when I do not even while awake. I have no respiratory issues. But I have to get a full night sleep during the day now without it so I can use it at night.i never can without conscious effort fully exhale

  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.

  21. Kevin Reply

    I’m recently diagnosed with mild OSA and received my CPAP machine about a week ago. I feel horrible. All day I’m still as exhausted as I was before I started therapy. And now, I have chest pain issues including Costochondritis which I was diagnosed 2 nights ago. I literally feel like I’m about to die, and it all started with CPAP therapy a week ago. I have this fancy new machine that’s supposed to automatically adjust to my needs, but I swear it’s way off. I’m not using the machine tonight. I don’t know what to do.

  22. Beth Reply

    Everyone who is having trouble with their CPAP, please go to your doctor and demand to be allowed to try a dental device or other line of treatment. The CPAP is NOT the only effective option, especially for mild/moderate apnea. You have the legal right to try a different treatment, and if your doctor tries to tell you otherwise, they’re wrong. Get another doctor.

  23. Tom. T. Reply

    Hello, I’ve had my Cpap machine a little over a year now. Have severe sleep apnea machine is set to highest settings but when I first started I felt better and rested, now I feel like I never slept. It says I’m not having many episodes a night. Why do I feel so tired then.

  24. J Reply

    Tom. T. and All –
    I feel your pain. I have been using CPAP for over 25 years and have the same issues. They say the numbers are great according to the CPAP but I feel like a brain fogged zombie if there is such a thing. Nervous at times, anxious for no reason, my body wants to cry out of exhaustion, but if I feel I get a better nights sleep, which are rare, I feel these symptoms less. So I know it is sleep related, but what do I know? The doctors have the degrees and the numbers can’t be wrong, according to them.

    • ryan overbeek Reply

      ok that’s interesting. just got my CPAP and according to my my partner I no longer snore. so that must be an improvement but I feel awful. jittery and anxious. today I got almost zero work done I was in such a fog. I am used to the device and my number of “events” has improved dramtically. it doesn’t bother me to sleep with it, but I feel like crawling into bed every night at 9PM when I’m normally awake until midnight.

  25. Jeanette Pilipovich Reply

    I have mild sleep apnea…
    CPAP machine for 4 months… I feel
    SO tired..So foggy all day .. Even my vision is worse .
    I still have 2-4 episodes a night. 5-6 during testing. I want to quit because I went off the machine for 4 days..I felt GREAT … Used it last night and I feel terrible tonight. What’s up?!?!

  26. Sue Reply

    1st night using machine with full face my Fibromyalgia flared up with major pain, fatigue, headache. The following week I could only tolerate 2 hours while I was awake watching TV. As soon as I went to sleep I lost my seal. Switched to nasal mask. Love this so much more as far as comfort and seal, but wake up exhausted, brain fog, Fibromyalgia flares, chest hurts, and my throat is sore. I am using it to stop snoring so husband can sleep. I also tested at 35 x per hour stopped breathing. Hate it, but I’m in this stupid contract with insurance and I have to use it. I like what a comment earlier said…CRAP!!!!

  27. Don Kemp Reply

    Most sleep specialists have no idea what a patient experiences using CPAP.

    My issue is that my upper airways (nasal passages) are extremely congested forcing me to stop using.

    I do have sleep apnea and my GP said to me that you need to persevere. In the short term he told me to use use Afrin nasal spray. I can use the CPAP therapy no but it is harmful to use Afrin ongoing.

    ENT suggests an RF ablation procedure to modify my airways that are chronically inflamed and swollen. I am at a loss on what to do

  28. UNO Online Reply

    I have the same issues. I wake up every two hours it seems from a dream and I have pain in and under my eyes from lack of sleep. Have tried so many meds, always a side effect.

  29. Jack Reply

    I am finally realizing that this is a scam. Almost 3 years, following up with my neurologist dozens of times, no answers. I manually turned everything down on my machine to the lowest levels and I’m going to try to wean myself off it. I felt way better before I started CPAP. Way freaking better.

    • Thad Reply

      I have had mine since June 30, 2022, one night during the first week I slept well, not since. I do not have dreams when using the CPAP. I did not use it during the week of 9/12 I felt OK. I used it every night week of 9/19. Eyes puffy, horrible. Not sharp just feel like I am someone else dropped into this body and expected to function the way he did. But I don’t know everything he knew so I kind of stumble through the day.

      • ryan overbeek Reply

        that is exactly how I feel! every day I feel like I’ve been drugged. the only reason I’m still using it is my partner said I don’t snore anymore or sound like I’m being strangled at night. if I’m getting better sleep why do I feel like total garbage? why do I need to go to bed at 9PM and sleep for 11 hours?

  30. Ralph Kerr Reply

    I have been using cpap machines for 20 years and I never had a problem. I cannot sleep without them. An important part on my 8-year old cpap broke, so I contacted a sleep specialist, and I got a new cpap. The pressure is much higher on my new cpap. I sleep well, but now i am sleepy all day. I will repair my old cpap and go back to it if I don’t get used to it and feel better within a few months

  31. Rhea Newman Reply

    I have been using the cpac machine for 12 days. Wake up tried any my eyes are so swollen. Severe bags under by eyes. The bags don’t go away. I have mild sleep apnea my pressure is set on 3. I feel awful and look awful!

  32. Betty Reply

    I agree with Rhea Newman. My eyelids are swollen and my face puffy. I do not recognize myself. Today is September 1st and I picked up my Cpap machine on Monday, August 15th. On August 16th my nose was running like a faucet. Taking an allergy medicine didn’t work at all. I didn’t use the Cpap on Tuesday evening the 16th but gave it another try on the 17th. I stayed in bed for the the week, finally went to the doctor on Friday thinking that I had Covid. I tested negative for Covid and my doctor told me to take the Cpap back and to have the pressure lowered. Eighteen days later nothing has been done to the machine because to change the pressure requires my doctors written order of which was a duplication of the first order. So, after an unsuccessful trip to the facility to adjust the pressure, I was told to try and adjust…blah, blah, blah, and to comply with the insurance requirements. Scam has crossed my mind also and I am in agreement with most everyone that has posted above. I continue to feel like crap. I fear that this Cpap machine is not a healthy treatment.

  33. Eric Reply

    Wow I thought I was crazy thinking I was the only the one that felt absolutely horrible after using the CPAP. I’ve used it for 5 days and feel the worst I’ve felt in my life. Its even worse than when I had a newborn baby in the house and after working a week of midnight shifts. before CPAP I felt pretty good in the mornings. But now I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.

  34. The Wiki Inc Reply

    I used to have a ginger tab and he liked to chew on the boots too. I kept a bottle of water in my nightgowns, and one shower was enough to keep me from chewing my boots.

  35. Pattie Siri Reply

    I had my sleep study, buy I did not sleep during the study. They told me I had severe sleep apnea. But now did they deduce that? I didn’t sleep for the study! I felt like I had a huge bowl of spaghetti stuck to me, they shoved a cannula up my nose and I was mortified all night long. I fee like low grade dog crap every morning, how is this good for you??

  36. Daniel Reply

    I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.Have only been using cpap for a few days.So far I feel 10x worse then before I started using it.Major anxiety which is causing me to feel nauseas and depressed.Just feel like garbage in general now.I cannot just stop using because I drive truck and I have to use it to stay compliant with d.o.t regulations or I cannot drive.

    • ryan overbeek Reply

      the reason I came to this comment board to see why I am so anxious. the other day my anxiety was crippling off the charts. I’m not normally like this. I also no longer dream and I’m sleeping 8-10 hours per night and don’t feel rested during the day. the thing is though my partner says I don’t snore anymore with it. so I feel like I need to continue. lastly, I seem to feel better the next day if I have couple glasses of wine, which doesn’t seem right.

  37. JR Reply

    Remember a standard/popular treatment is NOT a one size fits all. This comment section clearly shows that. ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF, come up with new options, and insist on trying them! Worst case scenario, you can always go back to try the standard treatment again.

    Good luck & may you find the best treatment that works for you! <3

    • JR Reply

      I am in the same situation as many of you. I just don’t understand how a one night test/sleep study can confirm apnea & the need for a cpap. That’s just flawed science! There are so many variables that can disrupt sleep. I was originally diagnosed with severe apnea after a home test (bc loud snoring). (Home tests are not considered as accurate.) I was given a cpap machine but didn’t really use it for long bc of what I would describe as crackle lung as a side effect.

      Fast forward about 10yrs, I did a study in the hospital. It came back with very mild apnea, even though I slept like crap during the test & felt like I was choking all night bc the air was INSANELY dry. Mind you, I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms prior to the second test: I haven’t used a cpap in years, rarely snore, take allergy meds daily, use a great pillow from my chiropractor, always a side sleeper, & use medical cannabis occasionally (approved for apnea). They gave me a new cpap machine & a full face mask (bc I’m a mouth breather almost 24/7). I feel WAY more tired since starting and just feel more like crap in general. My pressure is extremely low (5-15), but still feels too high. It’s been 2 weeks of straight use with good/high scores (MedRes).

  38. BW Reply

    I’ve had untreated sleep apnea for 10 years. Maybe longer. I’m on my 2nd great night of sleep after getting a device that pushes my jaw forward. Took me about a week to get used to the device, but I had an immediate improvement in sleep. The past two nights I’ve slept better than I’ve slept my whole life, but I feel exhausted. I can’t stay awake. I’m reading it may take 3 months to a year to see improvements. Im guessing its the brain thats going to have to adjust to the new sleep. A little relief would be amazing. It’s good to know I’m not alone and will keep going.

  39. Eve Reply

    Is the cpap industry a total racket? Mine makes me feel terrible too. I’m exhausted! When you ask for help, they totally gaslight you and make it seem like it’s your fault because you’re probably breathing out of your mouth, or you should be wearing it while you’re watching tv. Whatever!

  40. The Password Game Reply

    While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy is effective in treating sleep apnea, some individuals may initially experience an adjustment period where they feel worse before feeling better. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it can take time for the body to adapt to the sensation of wearing a mask and the airflow pressure. Additionally, issues like mask discomfort, dryness, or nasal congestion can arise, causing discomfort. In rare cases, individuals may have underlying respiratory or medical conditions that need to be addressed alongside CPAP therapy. It’s crucial to communicate any concerns to your healthcare provider to ensure proper adjustments and troubleshooting to optimize your CPAP therapy experience.

  41. retro bowl Reply

    The key to successful CPAP therapy is patience and persistence. It may take some time to adapt to the therapy, but the long-term benefits to your health and quality of sleep make it worth the effort.

  42. cookie clicker Reply

    It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider or a CPAP specialist to address any issues you may be facing.

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