I just started wearing a device at night to treat obstructive sleep apnea. How soon can I expect my symptoms to improve?

Most people start seeing a decrease in morning headaches, dry mouth and daytime sleepiness within a few days after starting positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment.

Because the device you're wearing prevents your airway from being blocked, you should notice immediately that you no longer wake up gasping or choking. Your partner might also mention that you have stopped snoring.

What obstructive sleep apnea symptoms take more time to improve?

Some issues take a little longer to improve, such as memory problems and controlling high blood pressure. The key is to stick with your PAP therapy treatment. The more often you wear your PAP device, the faster your symptoms will resolve.

Do I need to wear my PAP device all night long?

It's important to wear your device the whole night — rather than taking it off after a few hours — to maximize its effectiveness.

What happens if I don't treat my obstructive sleep apnea?

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and car crashes from drowsy driving. Sticking to your treatment plan relieves symptoms such as snoring and reduces your risk of developing severe heart health issues and other life-threatening conditions.

Once my symptoms go away, can I stop wearing my PAP device?

It may be tempting to wear your PAP device less frequently once your symptoms get better. However, skipping a few nights of PAP therapy can undo the progress you've made. Obstructive sleep apnea treatment is not temporary. It's important to make therapy a part of your everyday lifestyle.


Eric J. Olson, M.D.

Aug. 14, 2020