Do you suffer from sleep apnea that results in pauses in breathing during the night? Has your doctor recommended a continuous positive air pressure machine (CPAP)?
Navigating the world of CPAP devices can be overwhelming with so many styles and features to choose from.
Our goal is to make your decision easier by helping you to find the highest-rated CPAP machine based on your lifestyle. Looking for something portable, lightweight, and affordable?
Keep reading for our 3 top-rated options, or skip ahead for the full scoop on CPAP therapy.
Editor's ChoiceResMed AirSense
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Travel FriendlyResMedAirMini Auto Travel CPAP Machine
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Excellent ValueTranscend 365 Auto miniCPAP with Heated Humidifer
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3 Top-Rated CPAP Machine Reviews
ResMed AirSense – Editor's Choice
- Automatic adjusting
- Delayed pressure increase
- Built-in wireless communications
- Integrated humidifier
- Climate control
- LCD color screen
The ResMed AirSense 10 is a premium automatic-adjusting CPAP machine that's designed to fit your specific needs. It starts with a lower pressure setting to help you fall asleep and increasing once sleep is detected. You can stay comfortable and connected with built-in wireless communications and an integrated humidifier with climate-control.
The quiet, easy-breathe motor is designed to isolate and minimize noise, for a peaceful sleep environment for you and your sleep partner. Navigating the color LCD screen shouldn’t be too difficult thanks to the user-friendly controls and forward-facing design. This device also features expiratory pressure relief, a customizable setting that helps to decrease pressure during exhalation on a breath-by-breath basis.
When it comes to a more satisfying sleep, the ResMed AirSense may help. The AutoSet feature continually monitors airflow, delivering the lowest air pressure possible to keep you comfortable and covered during apneic events.
ResMedAirMini Auto Travel CPAP Machine – Travel Friendly
- Automatic adjusting pressure
- Small, lightweight design
- Track Sleep Data
- Ultra Quiet technology
- FAA Approved for Long Flights
- 2-Year Warranty
The ResMed AirMini Auto Travel CPAP machine features a sleek, modular design based on the latest clinical technology. This new and innovative device is smaller and lighter than other models, so it takes up less space in your bedroom and is compact for easy travel. This makes it perfect for road trips, camping, and cruises.
The ResMed AirMini provides a companion smartphone app, letting users adjust settings, view sleep data, and turn the device off and on from their phone. Whisper Quiet technology makes the ResMed AirMini one of the quietest devices available, which is a huge plus for users and sleep partners.
The ResMed AirMini provides the perks of humidification while traveling without lugging a bulky humidifier around. The 2-year manufacturer's warranty offers a hassle-free experience so you can easily exchange your machine should any problems arise.
Transcend 365 Auto miniCPAP with Heated Humidifer – Excellent Value
- Compact and lightweight
- Battery Powered CPAP & Humidifier
- Color LCD Screen
- Large Tactile Buttons
- Padded Travel Bag
- Auto Presure Adjustments
Transcend 365 Auto miniCPAP with Heated Humidifer is a compact and lightweight machine that comes at an excellent value. This innovative technology offers a full night’s sleep anywhere and provides worry-free power during storms or power outages with it’s powerful battery. The clever design lets you pack a battery neatly for a minimal profile.
Large, tactile buttons make it easy to change settings and navigate the menu screens for frustration-free sleeping. The Transcend 365 miniCPAP uses a unique technology called CFV, Capillary Force VaporizerTM, to infuse warm mist into your breath. This helps soothe your airway with half the water of a regular humidifier.
Transcend 365 miniCPAP Ramp setting starts with a lower therapeutic pressure and gently raises it until the desired treatment pressure is achieved, letting you drift off easily. When you exhale, the EZEX function reduces air pressure for a more pleasant treatment.
How Do CPAP Machines Work?
CPAP machines are designed to provide continuous airway pressure and support for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition happens when the airway is partially or completely blocked, leading to shallow breathing and episodes of temporary loss of breath. These episodes can occur up to 100 times a night and usually last between 20-40 seconds in length.
The temporary lapses in breathing may result in oxygen deprivation and microarousals from sleep. Over time, OSA can lead to serious side effects and health conditions, so it is important to seek treatment if you or a loved one shows any signs or symptoms. Snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, and waking up still feeling tired despite a full night’s rest are some of the main symptoms.
CPAP devices work by delivering pressure-based airflow through a ventilation system, usually attached to a humidifier that creates a more comfortable experience for users. Machines may deliver airflow at a steady, continuous pressure (CPAP) or a variable rate dependent on the user’s breathing patterns (BiPAP).
What Are the Different Parts of a CPAP Machine?
The connective hose links the CPAP mask and the machine together. The standard size is 6 feet long, but tubing is available in 6, 8, and 10-foot lengths that may be lighter and more flexible than what usually comes with most devices. Most tubing is universal and will fit on any model.
Some hoses feature copper coils that are designed to heat the tubing and maintain a constant temperature. This also helps to prevent water from collecting inside the hose. It’s important to dry hoses out daily or mold and bacteria can develop and lead to health problems.
The generator powers the CPAP machine and is housed in a small box with a motorized fan inside. The fan pulls in air from the room, pressurizes it, and then delivers it through a mask or nasal cannula. Generators require a power source and must be plugged into an electrical outlet, although some do have backup battery generators for outages or easy travel.
Most devices have a built-in feature that allows certain settings to be customized depending on each individual’s needs. Some even have automatic pressure adjustment that will deliver the lowest levels possible to keep you comfortable while still providing optimal therapy.
CPAP machines require a filter to eliminate allergens and impurities in the air like smoke and dust. Similar to air filters in your home or car, these are designed to improve the quality of the air being used in CPAP therapy and keep harmful contaminants out. Filters may be reusable, disposable, or designed for eliminating bacteria.
Disposable filters should be replaced every 4 weeks or when they start to show discoloration. Reusable filters are designed to be cleaned and reused for longer periods, extending up to six months before being replaced.
The humidification chamber is another key part of the device and is usually built into the box, although some models feature humidifiers that can be removed. The humidifier warms the pressurized air before delivering it through a small hose.
Air that is warm and moist helps soothe the upper airway and nasal passages, preventing any swelling that may occur. Humidification is usually optional but can be especially helpful for those who live in dry climates. Using a humidifier can also alleviate discomfort for users who wake up with a dry mouth, nasal passages, or throat.
CPAP Machines Buying Guide
CPAP machines range in price, but most models are between $200 and $800 depending on the features that are included. BiPAP machines are more expensive and may be over $1,000. Some models come with everything you need, and others require the purchase of a mask separately.
Warranties are usually offered through the manufacturer and typically range from 2 to 5 years. The warranty covers any defects due to faulty materials or workmanship, and most companies will either repair or replace the broken parts.
Type of Sleep Apnea
CPAP therapy is usually most effective for obstructive sleep apnea, delivering continuous pressure to maintain an open airway. Central sleep apnea is when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. BiPAP devices deliver positive air pressure that varies according to the user’s breathing. For more, see our Sleep Apnea Guide.
Type of Mask
Masks are sold separately from the machine and come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate the user’s preference. The four main categories of masks include:
Nasal masks are the ideal choice for nose breathers and those looking for a more comfortable experience. These masks are smaller than full face masks and are designed to fit snugly over just the nose, from the bridge to the upper lip. The concentrated airflow through the nasal passages allows for a greater amount of pressure for individuals who require higher settings.
Nasal masks can be a good middle-of-the-road option between full face masks and nasal pillows. They are also ideal for those who move around a lot in their sleep and prefer a more natural airflow.
These masks sit underneath the nose, eliminating contact with the bridge of the nose. They deliver airflow through both nostrils, allowing for greater pressure. Nasal cradles are suitable for users who breathe through their nose and prefer the freedom to move around in their sleep.
This design was one of the first types of CPAP masks and is still a popular option. Many models have chin straps that are used to keep the mouth and jaw closed during therapy.
Unlike nasal masks, full face masks cover the entire mouth and nose, creating a seal over both airways. These masks are ideal for users who breathe through their mouth or require high-pressure settings. Many claustrophobic individuals prefer full face masks since they only touch the outside of the face.
These types of masks are more prone to leaks, which can irritate the eyes and face. They are also not the best choice for side or stomach sleepers since they can easily become displaced. To see our top picks, check out our roundup for the best CPAP masks.
Dimensions of Machine
CPAP devices come in a range of shapes and sizes, some being lightweight and compact for travel. If bedroom space is limited, a smaller machine may be preferable. Even the largest machines can usually fit on a bedside table or dresser.
The optimal pressure range is usually set by a physician depending on each individual’s needs but generally falls between 6 and 14 cmH20. Most of the available models on the market deliver a wide range of pressure with airflow ranging between 4 to 20cmH20.
The humidifier may be built-in or detachable, but both require water to function. Built-in humidifiers will need water to be poured into a chamber in the unit while removable humidifiers can be filled separately. The size of the chamber will also determine how long the machine can operate before requiring more water.
Once the machine is turned on, it takes a while to reach the prescribed airflow pressure settings. This time, referred to as ramp time, is often between 30-60 minutes. Starting at a lower setting may make it easier to fall asleep for some users.
The connective tubing between the mask and the CPAP device determines how much space an individual has to move around. Most standard hoses are 6 feet in length, but longer hoses are available and can be used with any machine.
The sound a CPAP makes is measured in a-weight decibels, or dbAs, which describe the relative volume of air-based noises. Most machines are around 30 dbAs, compared to snoring which is anywhere from 60-90 dbAs. The sound may take some time to get used to, but most people find it quickly becomes background noise.
Unless you plan on climbing Mount Everest or live high up on a mountain, altitude probably won’t be an issue. Most machines are designed to function at normal altitudes and may not work properly outside of this range. If you require a device that can withstand higher altitudes, check the settings and look for travel CPAPs that often have this added feature.
Most machines are electric and can be easily plugged into an outlet. Models will usually function on a voltage range between 100 to 240V AC. If you plan on traveling with your unit, be sure to check voltage compatibility or look for a device that can function on batteries just in case.
Most models feature built-in monitoring that will alert users if there is a problem such as a power failure, an air pressure leak, or if the seal is broken on the mask. Alerts may be audible similar to an alarm or may be seen on a built-in LCD screen.
Every machine will have controls that allow users to turn the machine on/off and adjust the various settings. Some also feature automatic controls that adjust the amount of pressure based on the user’s breathing and whether they are asleep or awake.
Most machines now offer advanced features with data monitoring and recording that can be viewed on the machine and sent electronically to a computer or smart device. This allows users to track their progress and send this data to a healthcare provider as well.
Basic Instructions for Using a New Machine
Before using a new machine for the first time, read over the instructions or watch the instructional videos that many companies offer. It is important to familiarize yourself with all of the functions and features your device offers. While every model will be slightly different, here are some basic step-by-step instructions that should apply to most machines:
- Choose a level surface for the machine that is close to your bed and where there is little risk for falling.
- Plug the machine into an electrical outlet or insert the required battery.
- Ensure the humidifier chamber is filled with distilled water.
- Connect the appropriate tubing between the machine, humidifier, and mask.
- Adjust the mask to find a comfortable, secure fit without any leaks.
- Turn the machine on and adjust the settings.
- Monitor progress and data over time.
If you want to know more about CPAP masks, check out our guide on how to sleep better with a CPAP mask.
Benefits of Using a CPAP Machine
Currently, there is no cure for sleep apnea, although this condition may be temporary for some. While some lifestyle measures like losing weight and changing sleeping position could help, CPAP therapy is considered the gold standard and the most effective treatment available for sleep apnea.
Like most other types of therapy, the effectiveness will be determined by each user’s compliance. Using CPAP therapy as prescribed every night is the best way to address this condition. Many people report feeling more energetic, refreshed, and alert when they continue with treatment.
Range of Prices and Features
CPAP devices are available in a wide range of prices to suit every budget. Some may be covered through insurance as long as there is a demonstrated need and prescription. The price will largely depend on the type of features each model offers.
Basic units offer treatment at an affordable price, while higher-end models may feature advanced technology, automatic adjustment, and integrated data monitoring. Some brands will offer extra features that can be purchased at any time for greater customization and comfort. These may include heated tubing and reusable filters.
While most machines weigh in under 5lbs, some are large and may not be as easy to travel with. Compact, lightweight devices are available for those who often travel for work or pleasure. Smaller units are also more convenient for taking up less space in the bedroom.
Some CPAP machines are specifically designed for traveling with and can easily fit into luggage or a carry-on. These travel units may not have the same features as standard models, but many have a battery system that can be used when power outlets are unavailable.
Additional Considerations For Sleep Apnea Sufferers
Adjustable Bed Frame
An adjustable bed is designed to allow sleepers to elevate the head of the bed and sometimes the feet too. Sleeping with the head at an incline may help to minimize snoring. Many adjustable beds come with a preset “anti-snore” setting that places the head at an optimal angle.
Sleeping on the back has been found to be the worst position for those who suffer from sleep apnea. In this position, the esophagus constricts and the tongue falls back into the throat making apnea worse. Sleeping on the side allows the airways to remain open and clear, improving symptoms like snoring.
Choosing the Right Pillow
Similar to sleeping position and using an adjustable bed frame, the pillow designed for sleep apnea can also help to minimize symptoms. The height of the pillow is referred to as the “pillow loft.” For back sleepers, having a thicker pillow loft may improve breathing by elevating the head and keeping the airway open.
Side sleepers will be most comfortable with a pillow that best supports the head and maintains a neutral spine. If a pillow is too low or too high, the neck will be hyper-extended which could impair breathing. For more, see our roundup of the best pillows for side sleepers.
FAQ about CPAP Machines
Will I be able to stop using CPAP?
Some of the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea are lifestyle-related and can be improved by making healthy changes. Losing weight, smoking cessation, reducing alcohol consumption, exercising, and changing sleep position may all help to reduce OSA.
While aging can minimize muscle tone and compromise airflow during sleep, exercise may help to slow or reverse this process. Talk to your doctor about what lifestyle changes you could be making. In some cases, adopting a healthier lifestyle may improve symptoms to the point that CPAP therapy is no longer necessary.
Will a CPAP machine help me lose weight?
CPAP isn’t a treatment intended to help people lose weight, but according to some new research, it may! Obesity is a risk factor for OSA because excess weight can constrict the airways and make symptoms worse. When sleep restriction is ongoing, it can lead to dysfunction with certain hormones that regulate appetite.
A study published in the European Respiratory Journal found that using CPAP therapy helps to regulate these hormones that influence hunger and satiety. While this is only one small piece of the puzzle, it could bring hope to individuals with OSA who are struggling to lose weight.
How long will it take to get used to CPAP?
If you are new to CPAP therapy and are struggling to adjust, don’t give up! It can take time to get used to wearing a mask and the feeling of positive airway pressure. For some people, the noise of the machine is their biggest complaint. Every person is unique, and it will take each individual a different amount of time to get used to CPAP therapy.
For some people, the adjustment period will be only a couple of weeks, for others, it could be months. If you have been using CPAP therapy for some time and are still struggling to adjust, speak to your doctor about options that could make you more comfortable. Changing the pressure settings, switching to a new mask, or using BiPAP for higher pressure may all help.
If you’re in the market for a CPAP machine but have been drowning in a sea of medical jargon and endless reviews, you may be ready to throw in the towel. With so many products to choose from, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Finding the right machine could make a world of difference in keeping you comfortable and committed to therapy.
We’ve reviewed some of the best CPAP machines on the market to help make your decision a little easier. Remember, getting used to your device make take some time, but the difference in how you feel the next morning should be worth it!