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5 Best CPAP Masks for Side Sleepers in 2021

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 21 minLast updated on July 8, 2021

CPAP therapy is the most effective way to minimize the symptoms of sleep apnea and get restorative sleep back in your life.

But the key element of effective CPAP therapy is a CPAP mask. It should be chosen taking into account such factors as pressure settings on your device or your sleeping position.

And since side sleeping is believed to be the most common position, today we’ll look into the best CPAP masks for side sleepers. There also are some tips below on how to choose the mask that will suit you perfectly, so read on!

A Quick Preview

Fisher and Paykel Simplus Full-Face Mask
Best for Mouth Breathers

Fisher and Paykel Simplus Full-Face Mask
Read more about this cpap mask
ResMed AirFit F30
Best for Active Side Sleepers

ResMed AirFit F30
Read more about this cpap mask
AirFit F20
Best for Combo Sleepers

AirFit F20
Read more about this cpap mask
ResMed Mirage Nasal Pillow System
Best for Reading in Bed

ResMed Mirage Nasal Pillow System
Read more about this cpap mask
SleepWeaver Anew Mask
Best for Side Sleepers with Sensitivities

SleepWeaver Anew Mask
Read more about this cpap mask

Our Reviews of 5 Best CPAP Masks for Side Sleepers

Best for Mouth Breathers - Fisher and Paykel Simplus Full-Face Mask

Fisher and Paykel Simplus Full-Face Mask

Highlights

  • clear-vision design;
  • doesn’t put too much pressure on your nose bridge;
  • has quiet air vents;
  • easy adjustments for effortless maintenance and assembly;
  • ErgoForm™ Headgear to ensure a secure fit even if you move in bed.

I’ve placed the Simplus by Fisher and Paykel in my review of the best CPAP masks for side sleepers because it’s a great pick for those who breathe through their mouth. And if you think that this mask is too bulky for side sleeping, let me assure you: as soon as you put it on and adjust the straps, you will barely feel it.

The headgear of the mask combines stretch and non-stretch elements that help you adjust it precisely to your facial structure. So, the mask will stay in place and maintain the seal even if you actively switch positions during the night.

The Simplus also features a soft silicone cushion with the Roll-Fit system. This system minimizes the pressure on the nose bridge and enhances your comfort. This means no red spots!

Also, despite a full-face design, the mask doesn’t interfere with your sight, so you can read books or watch TV in bed without any problems.

The Simplus is available in three sizes and its headgear can fit literally anyone. Also, the headgear features Easy-Clip attachments that make its assembly and maintenance as easy as pie.

Overall, this is a great CPAP mask for a reasonable price. If you’re prone to cold or have frequent nasal congestions causing you to breathe through your mouth, it can make your CPAP therapy much more comfortable and effective.

Best for Active Side Sleepers - ResMed AirFit F30

ResMed AirFit F30

Highlights

  • adjusts to your head precisely;
  • ensures a clear line of sight;
  • suits active sleepers;
  • lightweight for increased comfort during sleep (and to avoid the feeling of being restricted);
  • flexible headgear to accommodate different types of sleepers.

Another contestant competing for the title of the best CPAP mask for side sleepers in my review will suit those who toss and turn a lot. The ResMed AirFit F30 offers minimal design and comfortably tight fit that won’t interfere with your sight or squeeze your nose bridge.

The mask is available in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ configuration, which can be adjusted to small and medium sizes. The headgear is made of soft and elastic straps with magnetic clips. These clips will ensure quick release without having to readjust the straps every time.

An elbow with multiple vents evenly and quietly dispenses the air out of the mask, so don’t be worried about waking up in the middle of the night because of the noise or disrupting your partner’s sleep. Also, both the elbow and the vents are located far from your eyes, so say goodbye to eye soreness!
To sum it up, I really like this sleep apnea mask. Its compact design and highly adjustable headgear will make the AirFit F30 a good purchase for many side sleepers out there, including the most restless ones.

Best for Combo SleepersAirFit F20

AirFit F20

Highlights

  • offers a secure fit without applying too much pressure;
  • flexible mask frame to satisfy different types of users;
  • dual-wall silicone cushion for gentle contouring and enhanced comfort;
  • easy assembly for more convenience;
  • diffused vent for noise minimization.

Looking for a reliable CPAP mask that would stay in place even if you tend to switch positions during the night? Want to go from back to side sleeping without worrying that your mask may fall off? Then you should definitely consider the AirFit F20. Rightfully being among the best CPAP masks, this model delivers a secure fit but doesn’t feel restraining or irritating. Plus, there’s an added cushioning system to make it feel as comfy as possible.

Now, there are many thoughtful details behind this mask’s comfortable fit. The plush headgear is adjustable and has simple magnetic clips for easy operation. The mask frame is flexible so it should adapt to the curves of one’s head. Plus, there’s enough padding in the potentially tender pressure spots to ensure that this CPAP mask doesn’t cause you any discomfort during the night.

All in all, it certainly is a worthy find. The AirFit F20 would work for a wide variety of sleepers and won’t slip off even if you decide to roll around a bit.

Best for Those Who Love Reading in Bed - ResMed Mirage Nasal Pillow SystemResMed Mirage Nasal Pillow System

Highlights

  • provides a clear field of vision;
  • feels comfortable on your head;
  • may work for individuals with mustaches and beards;
  • affordably priced and offers good value for money;
  • special air vents to mimic regular breathing patterns for enhanced comfort.

The Mirage by ResMed is a nasal cradle mask, which is one of the most compact configurations on the market. So, if you’re a fan of an evening movie or reading in bed, this mask will ensure that you’ll get your CPAP therapy while you’re enjoying your bedtime activities. And this is why it has made it to my review of the best CPAP masks for side sleepers.

So, the Mirage mask features a lightweight under-nose cushion that allows for the positioning of your CPAP device tube in any convenient way. Thus, you can easily adjust it to your sleeping position and get your deserved portion of comfortable shut-eye.

Another great feature of this mask is that its air vents work really quietly and are faced downwards to mimic your natural breath. So, if you share a bed with a sensitive sleeper, you can be sure about their comfortable shut-eye as well.
Overall, I liked this mask a lot. It doesn’t leave red marks, works quietly, and provides the clearest field of vision I have seen.

Best for Side Sleepers with Sensitivities - SleepWeaver Anew MaskSleepWeaver Anew Mask

Highlights

  • soft fabric cushion for better comfort;
  • comes in all sizes and is easy to adjust;
  • doesn’t feel too tight on your head;
  • 90º Elbow Swivel Connector to allow users to sleep in any position;
  • lightweight and compact, suited for traveling.

If it’s not your first time shopping for a CPAP mask, you may have noticed that despite being very common, silicone and memory foam cushions may create really bad skin irritations during use. If this is your case, take a look at the SleepWeaver Anew mask. I’ve placed in my review of the best CPAP masks for side sleepers primarily because it features a fabric cushion for improved comfort.

The cushion is made of a polyester and nylon blend, which feels very soft to the touch and absorbs moisture very well. Moreover, the maintenance of the cushion is easy: just wash it in warm water with mild soap and enjoy a fresh look!

Now, air vents are placed under the cushions, so the mask is incredibly quiet and won’t disrupt your or your partner’s sleep. The headgear of the mask goes above and below your ears and doesn’t put pressure on the nose bridge, thus eliminating soreness and discomfort in this area. Also, it’s fully adjustable and has comfortable clips for quick release in the case of an emergency.
I was skeptical about this CPAP mask at first, but it turned out to be more than good. If you’re prone to getting red marks and irritations from plastic cushions, try the SleepWeaver: chances are it won’t disappoint you.

Is Your Sleeping Position Important for Choosing the CPAP Mask?

Is Your Sleeping Position Important for Choosing the CPAP Mask

When choosing your CPAP mask, one of the first things you need to find out is if it’s compatible with your sleeping style.

Here’s the deal:

Back sleepers may use almost any type of CPAP mask, depending on the severity of their condition. Even a bulky full-face mask with a headgear that goes all over the head can be a good option.

Aside from using a mask, back sleepers may also want to try sleeping on a slightly inclined surface. According to studies, positional therapy can reduce the severity of supine-dependent apnea episodes by 31.8% (1).

However, choosing the same bulky model for someone who sleeps on the side might not be the best decision. The reason is, full-face masks may not stay properly put when you’re on your side. They may also press against the face too tightly, leading to leakage, red marks on the nose bridge, and irritated eyes.

That’s why your preferred sleep position should be one of the first things to consider. 

Did you know that the severity of your sleep apnea may depend on your sleeping position? Those who sleep on their back may have more apnea episodes during the night (2). That’s why some medical professionals even recommend learning to sleep on the side to reduce sleep apnea symptoms.

Which Types of CPAP Masks Are Compatible with Side Sleeping?

Which Types of CPAP Masks Are Compatible with Side Sleeping

The choice of sleep apnea masks is very wide today. But of course, not all of them are compatible with side sleeping.

At least, that’s what experts say.

So, let’s see what types of CPAP masks are there on the market, and how each of them may work for side sleepers.

Full-Face Masks

Being the biggest mask type on the market, full-face CPAP masks cover the area around the nose and the mouth

Earlier, I mentioned they may not be a good pick for a side sleeper. That’s mostly due to their bulkiness. Yet, in some cases, a full-face mask might be the only suitable option.

See for yourself:

  • Full-face masks are compatible with high-pressure therapy. Individuals with severe sleep apnea are typically prescribed to set the pressure level on their CPAP devices higher. But lightweight and compact masks — which are more comfortable for side sleepers — might start leaking when used on high-pressure settings. Meanwhile, a full-face mask distributes pressure better due to the larger area of contact with the face.
  • Full-face masks are suitable for mouthbreathers. Mouth breathing may be caused by nasal congestion due to an allergy or a common cold, or by habit. Since full-face masks cover the mouth area, they will work in both cases. 
  • Full-face masks can suit active sleepers. Yes! Just look for a model with flexible headgear made of elastic bands or straps, or choose a mask with a frame construction that goes around your head — and sleep well no matter how often you switch your sides.

Bottom line?

You can find a suitable CPAP mask for a side sleeper among full-face ones. But be sure to look for a more compact and flexible design. Also, forehead support might be something to consider.

Using an unsuitable CPAP mask may create negative associations with the therapy itself. Some patients might even withdraw treatment because of it, which could lead to worsening of the symptoms.

Nasal Masks

Nasal CPAP masks cover only the area from the nose bridge to the upper lip. They are more compact than full-face ones, and when paired with adjustable headgear and support system, a nasal mask will easily adapt to side sleeping.

Also, if you’re a side sleeper with a beard or mustache, a nasal mask can be a better choice for you due to its ability to maintain a tight seal.

However, this type of mask has some potential limitations:

  • it won’t work for sleepers who are prone to colds or allergies, as the main symptom of these conditions — nasal congestion — won’t allow a person to breathe through the nose;
  • if you’re a side sleeper with severe sleep apnea and need high-pressure therapy, a nasal mask might not go well with that either;
  • it might take time for you to get used to the feeling of pressurized air going straight into your nostrils; besides, this kind o f air delivery might lead to nose dryness and bleeding.

Individuals who are prone to claustrophobia might perceive pressurized airflow into their nostrils as restricted breathing, so a nasal mask might not be a good choice for them (3).

Nasal Pillows (Nasal Cradles)

Nasal pillows are even more compact than standard nasal masks. Typically, they feature a small supportive cushion under your nostrils and deliver pressurized air through paired tubes going directly into your nose.

This compact construction makes a nasal cradle mask suitable for any sleeping position, including side sleeping. Moreover, it will stay in place even if you actively switch from one side to the other during the night.

The downsides of nasal pillows are similar to those of standard nasal masks (4). You cannot use them with high-pressure settings and may need a humidifier to prevent dryness and nosebleeds.

Note that both nasal pillows and regular nasal masks require a built-in humidifier in your CPAP device to prevent the mucous membranes of your nose from drying out.

Things You Should Consider When Shopping for a Good CPAP Mask for a Side Sleeper

Things You Should Consider When Shopping for a Good CPAP Mask for a Side Sleeper

The best things are the ones that are personalized to suit your experience. This rule applies to everything, including sleep apnea masks.

So, here are some important points you need to consider if you want to buy a CPAP mask that will work best for you personally. 

Pressure Settings on Your CPAP Devices

Things are pretty simple here.

Typically, the higher the pressure settings on your CPAP device, the larger the mask you’re recommended to use. 

Full-face masks are the best for high pressure. 

Nasal masks may be not as effective but they typically feel more comfortable on your face.

Nasal pillows and nasal cradles, as mentioned above, are the least compatible with high-pressure CPAP therapy.

Cushion Type

There are three main cushion types in CPAP masks:

  • Silicone is the most common, durable, and easy to maintain but may feel too rigid for some;
  • Gel is adaptive and soft but may lack resiliency;
  • Memory foam is comfortable and adjustable but might feel hot.

The choice of the cushion material really depends on your preferences and comfort, so it’s better to try several different models and compare how you feel wearing each.

Facial Hair

If you have a beard or mustache, you may have a limited choice of CPAP masks. Thick facial hair will prevent the mask from creating a tight seal and staying put. This is especially true for full-face masks. 

So, if you’re prescribed to use a full-face mask, consider trimming your beard short so that it fits under it completely. In any other case, switch to a nasal mask or a nasal pillow system — they are much more suitable for people with facial hair.

Your Face 

To create a really tight seal, your mask needs to precisely adjust to your facial structure. This can be achieved by combining the right cushion type with adjustable headgear. But again, it’s better to give different mask types a test before you buy one.

Conclusion

So, a CPAP mask that’s compatible with your sleep position can make your therapy more effective. It will alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea without causing you discomfort during your shut-eye.

I’ve reviewed the most suitable CPAP masks for side sleepers above. And I should say they’re all comfortable, flexible, and effective. But the model that, I feel, can please most side sleepers undergoing CPAP therapy is the ResMed AirFit F30. It’s compatible with any pressure settings and may work for mouthbreathers and those who sleep with an open mouth. Also, it’s minimal design is good for those who enjoy reading or watching TV in bed.

What are your personal considerations for picking a CPAP mask for side sleeping? You’re welcome to share below!

References

  1. Fábio José Fabrício de Barros Souza, Pedro Rodrigues Genta, Albino José de Souza Filho, Andrew Wellman, and Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho (2017, June 24). The Influence of Head-of-Bed Elevation in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5700252/
  2. Grietje E. de Vries, MSc, Aarnoud Hoekema, MD, Ph.D., Michiel H.J. Doff, DMD, Ph.D., Huib A.M. Kerstjens, MD, Ph.D., Petra M. Meijer, NP, Johannes H. van der Hoeven, MD, Ph.D., Peter J. Wijkstra, MD, Ph.D. (2015, February 15). Usage of Positional Therapy in Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.4458
  3. Janalyn Cantey Edmonds, Ph.D., RN, CNE, Hyunju Yang, MSN, RN, Tonya S. King, Ph.D., Douglas A. Sawyer, BS, Albert Rizzo, MD, Amy M. Sawyer, Ph.D., RN (2015, March 1) Claustrophobic Tendencies and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy Non-Adherence in Adults With Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.heartandlung.org/article/S0147-9563(15)00003-5/pdf
  4. American Sleep Apnea Association. (n.d.) What You Should Know About CPAP Humidification? Retrieved from https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/cpap-therapy/what-you-should-know-about-cpap-humidification/

Additional Resources 

Our research

65

CPAP Masks Considered

190

Hours of Research

5

Mask Executives Interviewed

3

Sleep Experts Consulted

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