When you have obstructive sleep apnea, your body might seem to be working against you. You involuntarily stop breathing for short bursts of time when you’re trying to sleep, which prevents you from getting a restful night of uninterrupted sleep. Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at night could help you breathe easier. Ideally, with CPAP treatment, you can expect to get the rest you need. All CPAP machines connect to your nose or mouth with plastic tubing and some variation on a mask. But you have to get the right mask to truly experience the benefits of CPAP treatment. Take time to learn what to expect with CPAP treatment and brush up on the various sleep apnea mask styles so you can pick the right one to help you get a good night’s sleep again. Style Matters You may not feel super stylish wearing a CPAP mask, but trust us: style matters. The style of the mask matters, that is. Currently, you can choose between three basic sleep apnea mask styles: Nasal mask: a plastic mask that covers your nose and has a strap that goes around the back of your head. Pillow mask: this consists of two small cushions (or pillows) that fit directly into your nostrils. Full-face mask: a plastic mask that covers your nose, mouth, and most of your lower face, with a head strap to hold it in place. Those are the basics, but you may have to experiment with different styles to find out that works well for you. The most appropriate choice will depend on a number of factors, such as your typical sleeping position, the presence of any facial hair, and whether you tend to breathe through your nose or your mouth. Also, you may encounter updates or tweaks to those three mask styles that might work even better for you. For example, one new style of CPAP mask takes the basic concept of the pillow mask but changes it up a little. Instead of cushions that insert directly into your nostrils, the plastic tubing connects to small air ports that stop right at the entrance of your nostrils. Instead of a strap or headgear, surgical tape holds it all in place. More new products to watch are in the pipeline, too. The Right Fit Is Crucial If anyone tries to convince you that any old CPAP mask will be fine, don’t believe them. We’ve established that style matters, but size also matters. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in finding the right size. “One size fits all” definitely doesn’t apply to CPAP masks! Getting the right fit is absolutely imperative so you’ll get the most benefit from your CPAP therapy. One rule of thumb: don’t size up. A sleep mask isn’t like a cozy sweatshirt; it needs to fit closely to your face. An ill-fitting mask can leak air, which defeats the purpose of using it to begin with. A poorly fitting mask can also irritate the skin on your face. So when you’re shopping for a new sleep apnea mask, make sure you get fitted for the mask before you take it home. You Can Always Change It Up Once you make your purchase and take it home, it’s time to try it out. Give your new apnea mask a try and see how it works. If it seems to fit right, feel fine, and you’re getting a good night’s sleep without any trouble, great! But if you’re having trouble keeping the mask in place, or it doesn’t seem to be working effectively, consider swapping it out for a better-fitting model. Keep in mind that it can take a few days to get used to your new mask, so don’t toss it if it doesn’t seem right after one night. Eventually, you’ll have to replace even the best fitting mask. A CPAP machine can last for five years, but many manufatcturers recommend buying a replacement mask at least once a year. You may need to replace items like cushions every few months since they come into direct contact with your skin, and the oils from your skin can break them down. If you’re interested in trying a different mask style, that might be a good opportunity to see what’s on the market that may work for you.