How it Works

The Sleep8 CPAP companion generates ozone to maintain your equipment and help keep it free of mold and bacteria. Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how ozone works and why we use it to kill germs. If you’d like, click on the table of contents below to jump to a specific section of the article.

Illustration of molecules

What is Ozone?

An ozone molecule is made up of three oxygen atoms and is extremely unstable. In less than 30 minutes, an ozone molecule will break down and then recombine with the atmosphere around it to reform into normal, breathable air.

The most distinct feature of ozone is its crisp, fresh scent – a scent which you’ve almost certainly encountered before. During a thunderstorm, lightning splits the molecules in the air. Some of these include oxygen molecules that will collide with one another to form ozone. The distinct smell people notice before and after a rainstorm is the residual ozone particles, which, given the unstable nature of ozone, is also why the smell doesn’t stay around for very long.

Aside from breaking down quickly, ozone has two properties that are very useful for humans. First, ozone absorbs certain wavelengths of light really well. The earth’s stratosphere contains the ozone layer, a thin section of the atmosphere that has significantly more ozone than exists down on the surface. This layer of ozone absorbs a lot of the harmful rays that the sun emits, rays that have been linked to skin cancer and cataracts.

Ozone is also extremely effective at killing bacteria. Since this is at the heart of what Sleep8 does, let’s take a closer look at EXACTLY HOW that works.

How Ozone Kills Bacteria

How Ozone Kills Bacteria

All bacteria have cell walls that keep them together and allow them to maintain their shape. These cell walls are highly reactive with ozone particles. Whenever an ozone particle comes in contact with one of these bacteria, it punches a small hole in it.

One hole isn’t enough to kill a bacteria cell, but it doesn’t take much to fully rupture a cell — like popping a balloon. Research has shown that exposure to just .4 parts per million of ozone dissolved in water for four minutes is enough to kill nearly any virus, bacteria, fungus, or mold. As more ozone molecules come in contact with those cell walls, they punch more and more holes in them until they lose their structural integrity and literally fall apart.

Similar to a thunderstorm, Sleep8 generates ozone with lightning to kill bacteria.

Similar to a thunderstorm, Sleep8 generates ozone with lightning to kill bacteria. The Sleep8 uses its battery to generate a small electrical current between two plates. As miniature bolts of lightning pass from plate to plate, they create a small amount of ozone. The generator runs until there is enough ozone in the filter bag to kill bacteria, at which point the generator shuts off. At the correct level, the ozone-rich air will destroy any bacteria in the bag in a matter of minutes. Then the device begins an internal countdown while the bag safely contains the ozone until it breaks back down into breathable air. We then have a second cycle in which the Sleep8 brings in fresh air to accelerate the breakdown of the ozone and also help reduce the ozone scent.

Is Ozone Dangerous?

Much like other disinfecting agents, ozone can be dangerous if handled improperly. When used correctly, though, it is safe and extremely effective in killing harmful bacteria. Ozone is already used throughout the country to purify water, in hospitals, and on surgical sites during dental procedures.

A key feature of ozone is that it quickly breaks down into oxygen. Sleep8 uses this to its advantage and has been specifically engineered with safety in mind. Everything from the Sleep8 device itself to the filter bags is designed to maintain appropriate ozone levels and prevent leaks during and after use.

I Can Smell Ozone On My CPAP Mask, Is That Bad?

Humans have an incredible ability to pick up the crisp smell of ozone in the air. In fact, humans can detect ozone in as little as 10 parts per billion. Because of this, some people can smell the lingering scent of ozone on their masks, even after the ozone has dissipated from the filter bag.

The residual ozone that is on the mask is such a small amount that it is effectively harmless. It does take some people longer than others to adjust to the crisp scent of ozone, but most find it preferable to the dank, musty smell of a mask and tubing that has not been properly maintained.

It is possible, but very rare, for someone to have an irritation that is linked to the use of ozone. Mask rash is much more commonly the result of an ill-fitting mask or dirty equipment that has not been properly maintained. However, if you're not satisfied with Sleep8 for any reason, Sleep8 offers a full refund.

Will Ozone Damage My CPAP Machine?

If run directly through the machine, it’s possible. That is why many CPAP manufacturers said they reserve the right to void a device’s warranty if a CPAP suffers ozone damage. Ozone can oxidize metal and electronics over time, ruining the internal components of a CPAP machine. There are other ozone CPAP maintenance devices that pass ozone through the entire machine, and those who use them run the risk of damaging their equipment.

Sleep8 avoids this problem by never hooking up to the CPAP itself and by only passing ozone over the tubing and the mask — the typical breeding ground for bacteria. Your CPAP machine is at a much lower risk of harboring dangerous bacteria than your mask and tubing.

Man sleeping with CPAP machine

Will Ozone Cause Discoloration On My Mask?

While it isn’t common, there have been instances where CPAP masks have taken on a slight discoloration when used with Sleep8. This usually happens when skin oils or cosmetics from your face stick to the mask and then come in contact with ozone during Sleep8’s maintenance cycle. Depending on the material of your mask, you may see discoloration over time from general usage. It’s worth noting that any discoloration that happens because of this does not affect the integrity or functionality of the mask.

Mask discoloration due to ozone, for the most part, easy to avoid. Simply use a cleaning wipe such as Sleep8’s Mask M8tes CPAP Cleaning Wipes to clean your mask of any residue before placing it in the Sleep8 bag. This is a good habit to get into anyway, even if you don’t wear any cosmetic products.

Sleep8 Is Not An Ozone CPAP Cleaner

You should be very wary of any product that claims to be one. According to the FDA, to “clean” something, means to physically remove dirt, oil, bacteria, etc. This is usually done by scrubbing with soap and water or with another cleaning like our Mask M8tes mentioned above.

Sleep8 uses ozone to help maintain your CPAP accessories without any scrubbing necessary. The big advantage ozone has over other products is that it can completely permeate equipment — getting into the nooks of tubing where others cannot. Sleep8 focuses on maintaining CPAP accessories, not interacting with the CPAP machine itself.