Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder affecting 22 percent of men and 17 percent of women that causes people to stop breathing while they sleep, which can lead to heart failure, sudden cardiac death, and other health problems. (1)(2) Your CPAP, which treats sleep apnea, can save your life.
However, if it’s so loud that you can’t fall asleep, you may find yourself not using it. Below, we’re going to teach you how to make a CPAP machine quieter.
“Read as much as you can about [sleep apnea]. The sooner you get sleep apnea diagnosed and treated, the better you’re going to feel. You’ll get your life back, you’ll get your brain back, and you might even get your waistline back.”Sarah Gorman, Apnea Patient (3)
How Loud is a CPAP Machine?
Most new CPAPs are nearly silent, like our #1 CPAP for stomach sleepers we reviewed this year, barring a few issues that make them a little noisy. (4) How quiet? When your mask is fitted correctly and not leaking, most CPAPs rate around 30 decibels. That’s about as noisy as a peaceful rural countryside, just a little louder than a whisper or softly rustling leaves. (5) If you have a new machine, and it’s loud, something’s not right.
Keep in mind that the sound of the air can be louder to the person wearing the mask than to someone else in the room. Also, various machines have different pitches, known as the sonic quality, based on their construction, and people may perceive those noises differently.
If your CPAP machine isn’t “loud” but bothers you, it may be the sonic quality of the machine, despite the volume. If that is the problem, it’s probably best to get a new device with a different sonic quality to reduce the noise you hear. You should also talk to your doctor about the difficulty you are having because this is an important, life-saving medical device.
“If you give up after trying the first mask you got, then you really didn’t give it a fair chance. Tell your doctor the mask is causing you trouble, and ask if there is something else you can try.”Dr. Sanjay Patel, Harvard Medical School Associate Professor (6)
If your CPAP machine is suddenly more noisy than usual, our first advice is to check your filters and to clean the machine. Dirty filters can cause the device to work harder to pull air in, which leaves you with a noisy CPAP that makes it harder for you to sleep.
If your filters are changed, your machine is clean, and you are tired of whistling, grunting, or loud CPAP hubbub interrupting your sleep, there are a few more things you can try. When the sound is happening—all the time, while exhaling, or while inhaling—may change the steps to fix it.
CPAP Noise While Exhaling (How To Fix)
If your CPAP mask or machine is making a high pitched noise while exhaling, it may be that your mask does not fit correctly, or it’s that sonic quality we were talking about above. If your CPAP mask is loose, or the nose hole wide enough that air blows out past the seal, it will make more of that annoying sound.
Adjust your CPAP mask so that it is as snug as is comfortable and ensure that it is the right size for your facial features. Someone with a broader face may have narrow nostrils or the opposite; assuming “I’m a big person, I need the large mask” may create areas where the seal is not tight.
More Ways To Fix CPAP Noise While Exhaling
If your CPAP mask fits correctly, and your hoses are all in good shape, it may be “conducted noise.” That’s when your exhalation is made louder due to the tube providing air to your mask’s placement. If you are dealing with loud exhalations, try moving your hoses or placing them on a sound dampening surface, like a pillow.
Another sound that is pretty common when using a CPAP mask and exhaling is the “face fart.” This annoying sound can be startling but has nothing to do with the CPAP machine itself. This sound as you might be too familiar is like the raspberries kid’s blow at each other and is one of the significant signs that your mask isn’t fitting correctly, or you’ve knocked it out of position while sleeping.
If your mask is “blowing raspberries” at you, first check and adjust your bands, they may loosen over time due to natural stretching. Then make sure your mask is an appropriate size for your face. If both of those are correct, chances are it’s not sitting right on your face. Adjust it carefully and you should see some instant improvements with your noisy CPAP machine.
Other Common Noise Creating Issues
If your CPAP mask has inner and outer cushions, these two layers can sometimes become misaligned, causing noises like whistling, vibrating, or loud air sounds. Always check your CPAP mask to make sure that all of the connections are well set, and any cushioning is aligned properly to help reduce the unnecessary sound.
Another common issue may be with the mask’s valves, which are to stop the forced air from blowing out of your mask but allow exhalations to escape. These can become fouled due to excess moisture, so make sure that your mask has time to dry out completely and consider lowering your humidity settings if that is the case.
If your valves are stuck and making it impossible to exhale, or clacking as you breathe, contact your doctor about the malfunctioning mask.
CPAP Noise When Inhaling (How To Fix)
If you are getting an annoying sound when inhaling with your CPAP, the fixes start much the same as during exhalation. Begin by checking all of the connections on your machine, hoses, and mask for leaks or ill-fitting straps. After that, check to ensure that if your unit has a water tank to add humidity, it is in place correctly.
If you are dealing with a whistling sound while exhaling in your CPAP, a hose or connection in the machine or leaky mask is the most likely culprit. If it is none of those, check the other causes and factory defects section below.
It may be plugged filters, though that’s less common than with exhalation noises. If it’s time or near time to change the filters, do that now. If not, check them to make sure they are in there properly, and replace them if they look like they need it. This is also a good time to clean your hoses of any dust and dirt.
Other Causes For Inhalation Noises with Your CPAP
It may be that adjusting your pressure down slightly, or using the “ramp-up” feature available on some CPAPs will silence inhalation noises well enough to help you fall asleep. The ramp-up slowly raises the pressure to your optimum number so that it’s softer and quieter while you fall asleep.
If your CPAP machine is on a hard surface, that may be causing some extra clamor. Using a flat rubberized buffer, or sound-dampening thin pillow may help reduce and quiet some of the vibrations. You can find rubberized mats marketed as extra-large mousepads, or for use, kitchen floor mats to create a more quiet CPAP machine.
Take caution with any sort of pillow or soft surface, as they can plug the air-intake of your CPAP machine, and that would cause mechanical failure or the machine to overheat and could be dangerous.
Factory Defects, and Worn Out Parts
If your CPAP noise problem is persistent, you may have a machine with a factory defect or worn out parts. If your CPAP machine is new, and making a lot of noise, start by talking to your respiratory therapist about the issue to reduce the noise and finally get your own quiet CPAP machine. It may be that while you think it’s all put together well, your new CPAP machine is confusing, and you need a professional’s help to make your CPAP machine quieter.
If you have had your CPAP machine for a while, and the noise is new, it is more likely to be a worn-out part than a factory defect. Parts like Respironics elbows can wear out, causing whistling noises that can make it hard to rest. Make sure to check the humidifier area as well when ruling out noise sources.
It may be time to contact the manufacturer about your aging CPAP machine or even replace it with a newer and quieter CPAP for a silent night. Every generation of CPAP seems to be better than the one before it, so if a replacement is possible, it’s worth it to get a good night’s sleep. If it’s not possible to replace your CPAP machine, there is one last option.
If All Else Fails
If the CPAP noise is subtle, and you can’t locate the cause, it is often possible to cover some wheezing or inhalation noise with a box fan or white noise. Some people may find noise they hear amplified during seasons that central air or heat is not making a low hum or sound. During the cold or heat that kicks the HVAC system into action, it camouflages the sound.
Consider a white noise generator, if you are having trouble creating your own quiet CPAP machine. They can help the whooshing noises from your CPAP machine seem more like gentle waves caressing the beach than giant whales breathing near you. The cost is more than worth it if it results in you being more compliant, consistent, and committed to your CPAP machine.
“Many patients are dismissive of symptoms of sleepiness. It is accepted as the norm. Patients and providers need to acknowledge that OSA is a serious chronic disease just like hypertension and heart disease, and it needs to be managed.”Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, patient safety officer at the Mayo Clinic (7)
Because the CPAP machine is a vital medical device that keeps you breathing while you sleep, it’s important to find a way to use it as often and as long as possible. The fatigue and brain fog caused by not getting good sleep could cause you to make mistakes, or have a car accident, long before any heart problems develop. (7)
The Bottom Line
The first step to ending unnecessary CPAP noise is always to assure that masks, hoses, and connections are in place and fit right. Then check for conducted noise by moving hoses and placing them (or even the machine) on sound dampening surfaces. A loud CPAP is super annoying, as you probably know all too well if you’re reading this, but most are fixable or coverable with a white noise generator.
However, if you can’t get a good night’s sleep and you’ve tried our steps here at Sleep.FM for how to make a CPAP machine quieter, it may be time to invest in a new machine or a new CPAP mask. Having the right CPAP mask is an absolute game-changer for those looking for the quietest CPAP machine possible to ensure their night’s sleep is satisfying, rejuvenating, and peaceful.
If you’re looking for some highly-reviewed recommendations, check out our top-rated CPAP masks of the year, best CPAP masks for mouth breathers, and best CPAP masks for side sleepers to help improve your sleep further.
You and everyone on this planet deserves a great night’s sleep every night, and your CPAP machine shouldn’t get in the way of that, wouldn’t you agree?