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CPAP for Beginners

CPAP for Beginners: What You Need to Know

So your doctor recommend a CPAP machine. What's next? The world of CPAP machines and equipment seems daunting - and it's true, there's quite a bit to learn - but a little bit of research goes a long way in your CPAP journey. You've already taken a great first step by visiting us here at, because we can help you find the best and cheapest CPAP machines and equipment around. Our personable customer service team and resource center can assist you with finding the appropriate CPAP equipment for your unique needs and budget.

Know the Lingo

There are a variety of basic sleep apnea and CPAP terms you should know before beginning your CPAP machine research:

  • Apnea: Cessation of airflow for 10 seconds or longer.
  • Hypopnea: Slow breathing, typically associated with oxygen desaturation that causes a 50 percent decrease in airflow.
  • Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI): Apnea plus hypopnea per hour of sleep.
  • Respiratory Arousal Index (RAI): AHI plus hypopnea per hour of sleep.
  • AHI/RAI Scale: The measurement of the apnea/hypopnea index and respiratory arousal index that helps determine the extremity of sleep apnea.

Abbreviations to Know:

  • AI: Apnea index, number of apnea events per hour.
  • HI: Hypopnea index, number of apnea per hour.
  • AHI: Apnea/hypopnea index, number of apnea and hypopnea combined.
  • RI: Respiratory index, number of respiratory arousals per hour.
  • RERAs: Respiratory Effort Related Arousals, sleep arousals that occur due to pressure flow limitations
  • The AHI/RAI scale, as defined above, will help determine the severity of your sleep apnea.
    • Five to 15 events per hour: mild
    • 15 to 30 events per hour: moderate
    • More than 30 events per hour: severe

Quick Tips:

  • Start slow, use your CPAP while watching TV or relaxing
  • Make sure you invest in a comfortable mask
  • Increase mask comfort with lip balm
  • Use saline nasal spray for mild nasal congestion
  • If you're prone to dry mouth, choose a machine with a built-in humidifier