5 CPAP Alternatives For Sleep Apnea Treatment - Do They Really Work?

Are you desperate to find an alternative to using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for sleep apnea? You’re not alone! While CPAP machines are effective, it’s no secret that they can be uncomfortable, expensive, and often impractical. 


Alternatives to CPAP therapy have been gaining attention, and rightly so. Many other treatment options can provide relief from sleep apnea, with fewer drawbacks.


In this article, we’ll be breaking down the top alternatives to CPAP therapy, to ensure you have all the information you need to discuss different sleep apnea treatments with your healthcare provider.


#1. Dream Recovery Mouth Tape


Dream Recovery Mouth Tape is a simple, yet highly effective alternative to CPAP therapy for those struggling with mild sleep apnea (or snoring!). 


Taping the mouth shut at night while sleeping helps to encourage nasal breathing, which is essential for supporting optimal oxygen levels at night and promoting a healthier sleep cycle.


Compared to a CPAP machine, mouth tape is a much less invasive and cost-effective treatment option. 


Since mouth tape directly tackles mouth breathing, a common concern in those with sleep apnea, it helps to reduce poor breathing habits and snoring, which can have a beneficial effect on sleep quality. (1)


A preliminary sleep study in individuals with mild obstructive sleep apnoea found that mouth taping led to significant improvements in participants' overall apnea and snoring index scores, with about half of the participants showing a reduction in their sleep apnea severity and snoring. 


These results were particularly significant in participants who had the worst severity of sleep apnea in the study group. 


Overall this study demonstrates that mouth taping may work as a potential treatment option for those with mild sleep apnea. (2)


Try Dream Recovery Mouth Tape and experience the incredible benefits of deep, restorative sleep alongside the luxurious comfort of organic bamboo silk and hypoallergenic adhesive.





#2. Sleep Apnea Mouth Guards


Mouth guards designed to alleviate breathing difficulties in sleep apnea are also a viable alternative to CPAP treatment.


Sleep mouth guards are designed to gently adjust the positioning of your jaw and tongue, which can help open the airway during sleep by reducing the risk of the tissues around your throat collapsing inwards. (3)


With this mechanism, sleep mouth guards may help to decrease breathing interruptions and snoring to support overall sleep quality.


Rather than selecting an over-the-counter, generic mouth guard it's essential to get one properly fitted by a dental or orthodontic specialist. Not only does this help to ensure comfort and safety, but will also improve the efficacy of the device.


Since mouth guards have to be placed directly into the mouth, there might be an adjustment period. However, many people find them a lot less invasive and easier to use compared to the bulkiness and discomfort of a CPAP machine.


#3. Lifestyle Changes


Lifestyle changes like exercise, weight loss, and abstaining from alcohol are all treatment options that can help alleviate some of the root causes of sleep apnea.


For example, having excess weight is the strongest risk factor for the development and severity of sleep apnea. One of the reasons is that extra weight around your neck or chest can increase the risk of airway obstruction during sleep. (3)


Therefore, weight loss may help lessen some of the pressure on the airway, reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.


Research also shows that regular exercise may help to reduce sleep apnea severity and daytime sleepiness, and improve sleep quality. (4)


Reducing alcohol intake is another lifestyle modification that may improve sleep apnea severity. 


This is because alcohol relaxes the throat muscles, which can lead to increased airway collapse during sleep, exacerbating sleep apnea symptoms. (5)


That means if you have sleep apnea, it’s best to avoid alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.


#4. Surgical Procedures


Surgical procedures may be an alternative solution to CPAP treatment when anatomical abnormalities are contributing to your sleep apnea.


The types of procedures usually aim to alter or remove some of the tissues that might be obstructing the airway, like the adenoids, tonsils, or excess soft palate tissue. 


The most common surgical alternatives to CPAP include:


  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), where excess tissue in the throat and soft palate are removed or reshaped.

  • Maxillomandibular advancement, where the tongue muscle is repositioned forward.

  • Genioglossus advancement, where the jaw is moved forward to enlarge the airway.(6)


While surgical options can provide long-term relief and potentially cure certain cases of sleep apnea, they are typically only considered when CPAP treatment fails or is not tolerated. 


It’s important to note that each surgery carries its own risks, and the success rates vary based on each individual's specific anatomy and the severity of sleep apnea. 


Therefore, careful evaluation with a sleep specialist and a surgeon experienced in sleep apnea treatments is absolutely essential.


#5. Physical Therapy


Physical therapy for sleep apnea focuses on exercises targeting the throat and tongue muscles, aiming to strengthen these structures enough to keep the airway open while sleeping. 


These exercises usually involve enhancing the tone of the muscles around the upper airway and mouth to reduce the risk of airway collapse at night which can lead to sleep apnea events during the night. 


Some people might choose to undergo physical therapy alongside CPAP treatment, and then over time lessen their dependence on the device as their symptoms improve.


If you’d like to try physical therapy for sleep apnea, it's important to collaborate with a practitioner who specializes in this area to chart the best treatment plan going forward. 


Alternatives to CPAP Machine: What to Consider?


When exploring the alternatives to CPAP for sleep apnea, it’s important to consider a variety of factors.



Some of these might include, the severity of your sleep apnea, your lifestyle and motivation for change, the cost and accessibility of treatments, and the potential side effects and risks of certain options.


  • Severity of Sleep Apnea


The efficacy of alternative CPAP treatments will vary depending on the severity of your sleep apnea. 


Mild to moderate cases may respond well to mouth tape, oral appliances like mouth guards, lifestyle changes, or physical therapy, whereas cases of more severe obstructive sleep apnea where anatomical issues are a concern might require surgical interventions.


  • Lifestyle and Compliance


Not everyone may be willing to make lifestyle changes that require consistent change, like exercise, weight loss, and alcohol avoidance. 


If this is the case, be honest with yourself as to where you’re at and focus on treatments you are willing to try such as mouth taping, physical therapy, or mouth guards.


  • Cost and Accessibility

Some sleep apnea treatment options like surgical procedures and custom-fitted mouth guards may be expensive and not covered by insurance.


Therefore, you’ll need to evaluate what alternative treatments are affordable and accessible to you at this time.


Luckily, lifestyle changes are free, and incorporating a mouth taping practice is a very cost-effective option.

  • Potential Side Effects and Risks


Due to the nature of any invasive procedure and anesthesia administration, surgical treatment alternatives carry quite a few risks compared to other CPAP alternatives. 


On the other hand, oral appliances like mouth guards may cause dental discomfort or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues over time that can lead to jaw pain and tension.


Alternatives with the least risks include using mouth tape, trying physical therapy, and implementing healthy lifestyle adjustments. 


Drawbacks of CPAP Therapy

  • It can be uncomfortable: Unfortunately, many users find the CPAP mask very uncomfortable to wear, and trying to adjust to sleeping with the device can be a challenge.


  • It can cause claustrophobia: It’s no surprise that both the invasive mask and the sensation of forced air can trigger feelings of claustrophobia in some people. This anxiety can make it really hard to fall asleep.


  • It can be noisy: The noise generated by some CPAP machines, particularly older models, can be bothersome not only to the user but to their partner as well.


  • It may cause skin Irritation: The CPAP straps and mask can cause skin irritation, marks, or acne over time in some individuals.


  • It’s expensive: The initial cost of the CPAP machine and any ongoing expenses for replacement parts that might be needed can make it inaccessible to some individuals with sleep apnea.


  • It might cause dry mouth: CPAP therapy can lead to a dry mouth and throat, especially if your mouth opens during sleep. This issue can be mitigated by using mouth tape.


  • It requires maintenance and cleaning: Regular cleaning of the CPAP device, mask, and tubing is essential to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria that might lead to respiratory infections.


  • It’s hard to travel with: Trying to travel with a CPAP machine can be a huge hassle due to its size and the need for an electrical outlet with the correct voltage.



There are a series of promising alternatives to using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea treatment ranging from non-invasive methods like Dream Recovery Mouth Tape to encourage healthy nasal breathing, to custom-fitted mouth guards and lifestyle adjustments to target the root cause of sleep apnea. 


In severe cases, surgical procedures may be a viable solution for those with anatomical issues contributing to their sleep apnea, while physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles within the airway to improve breathing during sleep.


It’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to personalize your unique treatment plan, ensuring safety and optimizing the outcomes of your sleep apnea management.


Experience the science-backed benefits of Dream Recovery Mouth Tape here





  1. Yi-Fong Su, V., Chou, K. T., Tseng, C. H., Kuo, C. Y., Su, K. C., Perng, D. W., Chen, Y. M., & Chang, S. C. (2023). Mouth opening/breathing is common in sleep apnea and linked to more nocturnal water loss. Biomedical journal, 46(3), 100536. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bj.2022.05.001

  2. Lee, Y. C., Lu, C. T., Cheng, W. N., & Li, H. Y. (2022). The Impact of Mouth-Taping in Mouth-Breathers with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Preliminary Study. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 10(9), 1755. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10091755

  3. Ilea, A., Timuș, D., Höpken, J., Andrei, V., Băbțan, A. M., Petrescu, N. B., Câmpian, R. S., Boșca, A. B., Șovrea, A. S., Negucioiu, M., & Mesaros, A. (2021). Oral appliance therapy in obstructive sleep apnea and snoring - systematic review and new directions of development. Cranio : the journal of craniomandibular practice, 39(6), 472–483. https://doi.org/10.1080/08869634.2019.1673285

  4. St-Onge, M. P., & Tasali, E. (2021). Weight Loss Is Integral to Obstructive Sleep Apnea Management. Ten-Year Follow-up in Sleep AHEAD. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 203(2), 161–162. https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.202007-2906ED

  5. Peng, J., Yuan, Y., Zhao, Y., & Ren, H. (2022). Effects of Exercise on Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(17), 10845. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191710845

  6. Burgos-Sanchez, C., Jones, N. N., Avillion, M., Gibson, S. J., Patel, J. A., Neighbors, J., Zaghi, S., & Camacho, M. (2020). Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Snoring and Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 163(6), 1078–1086. https://doi.org/10.1177/0194599820931087

  7. Ephros, H. D., Madani, M., & Yalamanchili, S. C. (2010). Surgical treatment of snoring & obstructive sleep apnoea. The Indian journal of medical research, sleep medicine. 131, 267–276.
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