How to make your own CPAP pillow

Updated June 13, 2017

CPAP machines are genuine life savers. They allow people with sleep apnoea and other breathing conditions to get a full night of sleep without being awakened by the inability to breathe. Unfortunately, the CPAP mask and tubing is bulky and can trap users into a single sleeping position. If a person using a CPAP machine turns his head, the mask will be shifted and cause air to leak from between the mask and the person's cheek. This prevents the CPAP from working correctly. A remedy is to make your own pillow with contours that allow room for the CPAP.

Cut the piece of foam rubber sheeting to approximately 16 inches by 24 inches.

Position the foam sheeting on the bed. Lie on your back with the back of your head on top of the foam sheeting. Position the lower edge of the foam to touch your shoulders.

Draw a line with the marker to indicate the area where your head is located. Mark the area where your neck ends and your head contour begins.

Don your CPAP mask and tubing. Turn your head to a comfortable position to the right side. Mark the area where your cheek lies. Mark the area where the mask and tubing lie. Be careful not to mark on the mask.

Repeat for a turn-to-the-left side.

Carve the foam with scissors. Do not cut all the way through the foam. Imagine you are carving layers of the foam off. Carve the top layer off to make a "pothole" impression of the back of your head as indicated by your marking. You will leave the neck area as is. This will provide the proper position for your neck support, while your head drops into the pothole. Continuing carving the depth out, retry the comfort of the pillow, and carve more as needed.

Carve the top layers of foam from the cheek and mask area. If desired, you can completely remove the area where the mask lies. Retry the depth until the mask stays sealed to your cheek when you turn your head.

Repeat for the left side.

Insert the contoured foam in a standard pillow case.

Turn the open edges inward and sew closed.

Inspect to ensure that the contours remain accessible. A pillow cover that's too tight will not allow the mask to fall into the contoured space.


Make your custom CPAP pillow the same size as your other bed pillow. This will allow you to maintain matching pillow shams.


Carve the depth only a little each time to prevent irreversible removal of the foam.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 4-inch-thick foam rubber sheeting
  • Scissors
  • Marker


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About the Author

Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.