CPAP choking gasping: How do I keep from waking during CPAP gasping for air?

Waking up with a feeling from CPAP choking gasping for air is a very common experience. Getting acclimated to CPAP therapy is a process that takes time and persistence. During the evening before bed take your CPAP mask and machine into the living room and use your CPAP while awake and watching a favorite television show. Do this for 30 to 60 minutes allowing your mind and body to get used to the mask and the feeling of air flowing.

By using your CPAP while you are awake, you send a message to your body that tells it that you’re chosing to use this therapy and that it’s okay and safe. Remind yourself that CPAP is keeping your airway open all night so that you can breathe and sleep normally. Before CPAP you were awaking out of sleep many times per night without knowing it because your airway was closing over and over again. Soon you will find that you no longer have a feeling while you use your CPAP of choking gasping for air.

Also do relaxation or meditation exercises. Consider getting a good audio recording for sleep and relaxation. Over time anxiety will lessen and you’ll be able to get sleep that’s better than you’ve had in years.

  • A common experience that goes away as you acclimate to therapy
  • Try using your CPAP while awake and watching TV
  • Work your way up to 30-60 minutes
  • Focus on relaxing during theray, Give it time, and stay positive

The TotalCare Sleep Apnea disease management programĀ is available free to any CPAP user and supported by qualified, professional, CPAP therapists. If you want help getting better sleep and better CPAP therapy, click here to create your free account, complete an interactive CPAP therapy checkup, and to give us some details about your CPAP equipment.


4 thoughts on “CPAP choking gasping: How do I keep from waking during CPAP gasping for air?

  1. I’ve used a CPAP for years, so I am well-acclimated to using one. Recently, however, I wake up gasping for air. Could my oldish machine be the cause? Further, could it be that I am now sleeping in a very warm, high humidity area?

    1. Can’t say for sure Brian, but your ‘oldish’ machine may be the cause, especially if it is a fixed pressure machine. You may be operating at pressures that are currently too low to keep your airway open. Your change in climate may be an issue if your tube is filling up with water due to condensation in the tube.

      What kind of machine do you use?

      Do you have water collecting in your hose?

    2. I’m using the resmed air 10 cpap machine with humidifier I’m using the nasal pillows when I first started using cpap it was working good now the past month while using my cpap I’m waking up several times a night gasping for air again like I did before cpap I would like to know also why I am still having gasping interruptions… Hope we both can find some answers

  2. Brian, not knowing just how old your machine is, it is possible that the machine is the culprit if you are using newer interfaces that could be more restrictive than the machine is capable of overcoming, and so your pressure ends up being a bit lower than needed. Has your machine alarmed at all?

    Cheryl, your machine is much newer and should certainly be able to overcome the restrictions in smaller nasal pillows interfaces (assuming it is properly set to the nasal pillows setting, but even then I would assume this is not the issue), so I am wondering if your sleeping patterns have changed in some way – like a change in your sleeping position that might require a higher pressure to overcome obstruction. I would ask if you’ve had your machine data read recently and if so what the data pre- and post-issue might look like.

    If either of you would like further assistance, feel free to sign up to this TotalCare eHealth platform via this link,, which will link you directly to me and I can try to assist you further.


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