Automatic CPAP Machines
Automatic CPAP machines, also known as Auto CPAP, AutoPAP or APAP machines, are a type of self regulating CPAP machine used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and it occurs when the muscles in the airways collapse during sleep, leading to a complete or partial obstruction of airflow. APAP machines use advanced algorithms to monitor the user’s breathing pattern and adjust the air pressure as needed to maintain an open airway. These machines deliver a lower pressure during periods of normal breathing and increase the pressure as needed during periods of apnea or snoring.
What is the difference between auto CPAP and manual CPAP machines?
Both APAP and manual CPAP machines treat sleep apnea but there are certain advantages to having an APAP machine. A big one is comfort. APAP machines can be more comfortable than manual CPAP machines because they deliver lower pressures during times when higher pressures are not needed. This also makes APAP machines easier to get used to, and is an important point to keep in mind especially if you are undergoing sleep apnea therapy as a requirement for your job.
Another benefit of auto CPAPs is that they eliminate the need for an overnight sleep study in a lab. Since APAP machines can auto-titrate pressure in response to the user, there is no need for a sleep study to find the most effective pressure (95th percentile pressure) to prevent breathing events. Keep in mind, however, that a sleep study may be to your benefit especially if your doctor suspects you have complex sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea.
How do I choose an automatic CPAP machine?
When buying an auto CPAP machine online, we recommend careful consideration of the following:
- Noise level
- Compatibility with other CPAP accessories
- Value for money/insurance coverage
- Home-use or travel
Our CPAP Machine Buyer’s Guide for 2023 covers these factors in detail and provides our top automatic CPAP machine picks of 2023.
Automatic CPAP machine features to look for
- Heated Humidifier: Almost all home auto CPAPs come with heated humidifiers that add moisture to the air to help prevent dryness and irritation in the nose and throat.
- Ramp: A comfort feature that gradually increases the air pressure over a set period of time to help users fall asleep more easily. This feature is common in both home and travel units.
- Auto Start/Stop: A convenient feature available in almost all home and travel auto CPAPs which allows the machine to start automatically when the user begins breathing into the mask. Machine stops automatically as well when the mask is taken off.
- Heated Tube: Some automatic CPAP machines support heated tubing which prevents condensation by keeping the temperature consistent along the length of the tube. Heated tubing is almost always an optional add-on when buying auto CPAP machines.
- Exhalation Relief: A comfort feature which reduces pressure during exhalation, making it easier to breathe out against the pressure of the machine.
- AHI Tracking/Data Display: Most home and travel auto CPAP machines have built-in data storage so users can view their usage hours, mask seal, and AHI (apnea hypopnea index) or number of breathing events/hr. Newer automatic CPAPs can be paired to smartphone apps, allowing users to view and share their sleep data even when they are away from their machines.