Which Positive Airway Pressure Machine Is Right For Me?

If you have sleep apnea, the gold standard for treatment is usually a PAP machine. These provide you with a constant flow of air pressure which prevents your airways from collapsing (which happens during a sleep apnea spell), so that your body does not wake up throughout the night to re-open these airways.

Many people are intimidated by PAP machines, and because they would prefer not to wear one, they often leave their obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) untreated. In reality, these machines are not scary at all, and they can help you achieve the quality of sleep that you need to be productive, happy, and healthy. Modern machines are also extremely silent so as not to disturb sleep, and can be compact enough to just fit around your nose.

This blog offers brief summaries of the different kinds of PAP machines that can treat varying degrees of sleep-related breathing disorders and work for your other specific needs.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

CPAPs are the most popular sleep apnea machine. They provide airflow at a continuous pressure level which prevents your airways from collapsing. They can be set to start at a lower pressure and “ramp up” to a higher pressure over a set time.

APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure)

APAPs, unlike CPAPs, adjust their airway pressure throughout the night. They work by adapting to your needs on a “breath to breath” basis. An APAP machine decreases pressure “when your upper airway is stable,” and increases pressure “when it senses an airway event.” These airway events may consist of “an apnea [cessation of breathing], a hypopnea [abnormally slow or shallow breathing],” as well as limitations to your airflow, or snoring.

BiPAP/BPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure)

BiPAPs deliver higher air pressure when you breathe in than when you breathe out. This difference in air pressure can be more comfortable for people with certain medical conditions. BiPAPs may be recommended for people with central sleep apnea or more severe sleep apnea. In addition, BiPAPs are recommended for people who complain that it is difficult to breathe out against the continuous pressure of a CPAP. Certain BiPAPs, like the BiPAP ST or BiPAP Adaptive Servoventilation, are used for central sleep apnea if necessary.

Four different styles of masks for PAP machines:

  • Full Face Masks: Cover your nose and mouth.
  • Nasal Masks: Only cover your nose.
  • Nasal Pillow Masks: Even more lightweight than nasal pillows, these offer “a high level of openness and visibility.”
  • Oral Masks: Only cover your mouth.

If you’ve been tested and diagnosed with sleep apnea and need help choosing the right PAP, first choose Ognomy where one of our board-certified physicians can help guide you through your sleep apnea journey. If you think you have sleep apnea and need a home sleep test then Ognomy is absolutely right for you!

Book an online video chat with one of our sleep medicine specialists or download the app today in App Store or Google Play.


  1. https://www.cpap.com/
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/