Respiratory Therapist/BiPAP Question


My father has recently begun using a BiPAP machine for COPD and has been having problems at night getting used to it.  Is there a difference using a BiPAP machine during the day or at night?  Would it be acceptable to use a BiPAP machine for 8 hours during the day; rather than at night, until he gets used to wearing it?

Hi Cindy,

BiPAP is typically used at night because because this is when people sleep and it is most often during sleep that ineffective breathing patterns occur in many cases. For instance a person with sleep apnea often stops breathing frequently enough to decrease their normal oxygen levels which disrupts their sleep (even if they do not realize it) and makes them very tired the next day but also may lead to other more serious health consequences in the long run. A patient with COPD may have sleep apnea or, due to the COPD, they may just have an overall  less effective respiratory function when they sleep leading to more shallow breathing than normal, reduced oxygen levels  and, in some cases, higher carbon dioxide levels as well so it is important to wear the BiPAP to support the respiratory system during this time.

It may take a few weeks for your father to get used to the BIPAP. Wearing it during the day for a few hours certainly may help him do that, especially at times when he may take a nap.Make sure the mask is as comfortable as possible and fits well and there is good freedom of movement so he can turn or adjust position as necessary. He could start by wearing it for an hour or so when he is awake and can concentrate on relaxing and getting used to the feel of it. He can do this for a few days. Then if he feels sleepy or usually takes a nap during the day try wearing it at these times as well for an hour or so. If he does not usually nap, it may be good to schedule one for a few days. Then try adding a few hours at night, perhaps the first three or four hours of sleep. And then, after he is more comfortable with this, start using it throughout the night.

It is a highly individual experience so he may progress more rapidly or slowly but it is important that he becomes comfortable with it for the most benefit. Most patients I have worked with have told me that they found it exceedingly uncomfortable to start with but they love it once they do get used to it because they feel so much better after a good nights sleep with it, so tell him not to give up.

Also, some machines have a number of features that can be used to enhance comfort so be sure the equipment provider has explained these or has them set for his personal needs.

I hope that your father will soon be able to use his machine comfortably to breathe easier and enjoy his life more.

Respiratory Therapist

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Stephanie Tyrrell


Respiratory Therapy is a very diverse field encompassing many specialty areas. I have experience in many of these areas and I am willing to answer any question I feel competent to answer within the scope of my experience in the following areas: neonatal ICU and transport, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies, BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, ventilator management, chronic and acute respiratory diseases,(i.e. COPD, asthma, restrictive disease, ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), pneumonia, etc) and therapeutics, arterial blood gases, and others. Please see my profile under Experience for a full listing of areas of experience.


I have worked in respiratory therapy for over 25 years in all facets of patient care including level 4 neonatal ICU and neonatal transport, Director of Cardiopulmonary, community health fairs and networking, staff therapist, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies and BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, cardiac clinics, pre and post cardiac surgery education and patient care, emergency and long-term ventilator management, chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis; acute respiratory distress syndrome, emergency room, home and nursing home respiratory care. I also provided temporary staff to area hospitals through an allied health business I owned and managed, while also working as a staff therapist for the business.

Certified Respiratory Therapist, Registered Respiratory Therapist, Licensed RT, NRP ((Neonatal Resuscitation Program) certified, BS Biology/Botany, MS Environmental Sciences - Toxicology

Past/Present Clients
Thousands of in-patient and out-patient clients in the hospitals I was/am employed by as well as a number of local hospitals that utilized the services of my allied health business. I currently work as a respiratory therapist at a general hospital and a rehabilitation hospital.

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