Written by special contributor, Sarah Cummings
*This post may contain affiliate links.
Sleep. Remember that, the beautiful, rejuvenating thing none of us gets any more?
More and more of us seem to be suffering from poor sleep. So serious has the problem become that in 2014 the Centre for Disease Control described the prevalence of sleep disorders as a public health epidemic. Yikes!
While any disruption at all to our doctor recommended eight hours of slumber is bad for our health, some sleep disorders should be treated more seriously than others. Sleep apnea, for sure, is one.
What’s Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition in which the sufferers experience an uncontrollable narrowing of their throat during the night, one that can cause repeated pauses in breathing (the word apnea in Greek means “without breath”). These pauses can last anywhere from seconds to a minute. Scary stuff!
The resultant drop in oxygen intake panics the brain into shocking the body awake. This can happen tens or even hundreds of times a night. The most troubling part is that many sufferers have no idea it’s even happening. They just wake up usually feeling tired in the morning.
What is a CPAP Machine?
Numerous treatments exist for sleep apnea, but the one considered to be the gold standard is a continuous airway pressure device (CPAP). Think Darth Vader’s mask (or Kylo Ren’s for you youngsters) and you’re close to the idea. It is a breathing device worn through the night. It works by basically increasing the amount of air pressure in the throat which prevents the airways from collapsing during inhalation.
Sleeping with a mask on each night can be quite a challenge and does initially require a lot of getting used to. Once wearers become accustomed to wearing the device, however, there is no reason at all while they shouldn’t continue to live as normal a life as possible. Additionally, having sleep apnea and using a CPAP should not prevent anyone from traveling.
Tips for Traveling with a CPAP Machine
Always keep your CPAP machine by your side. CPAP machines generally come with handy travel cases which makes traveling with the device quite convenient. It’s best to keep your device with you at all times. Don’t worry when flying because your CPAP is a medical device; therefore, it won’t count as your carry-on item so you’ll still be able to bring your laptop, too.
Check you have the right power adaptors with you. Arriving at a destination to find you can’t charge up your phone is frustrating enough but discovering you can’t keep your potentially life-saving device working is bad news. Always make sure you get the right adaptor for your destination.
Invest in a travel CPAP machine. It is perfectly possible to travel with most CPAP machines. However, if you travel frequently or spend a lot of time outdoors, say hiking and camping up in the hills, then it may be worth investing in a travel CPAP machine. These devices can be as small as a can of Coke and some can even be charged by solar power.
Bring spare parts or check local availability. If you are traveling for more than just a couple of days, do some research ahead of time on where you can stock up on replacements at your destination if need be. If that’s not an option, then bring spare parts with you, things like extra mask cushions and maybe even a spare battery pack.
Prepare the machine for travel. Always make sure the device is packed safely. The last thing you want is for it to get damaged in transit. Make use of any travel cases provided. Definitely remember to empty out the humidifier chamber before traveling and allow it to dry. This will prevent spills and minimize the risk of the machine getting damaged.
Why it’s crucial to bring along your CPAP
If you use a CPAP machine then you are already very aware of the importance of using it every single night. That’s why it’s crucial to bring it along when you travel. Breaks in usage can have setbacks in your therapy. Plus, when we sleep in unfamiliar locations, be it a hotel room, your cousin’s house or even a tent, the quality of our sleep tends to be lower than at home. Research has shown that when bedding down in strange places a part of our brain actually stays awake as a kind of ‘night watchman’ to look out for dangers. This means we are already in a state of heightened stress; you don’t want to add to that by sleeping without your device.
Just because you have sleep apnea doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the same quality of life as everyone else. Travel, whether it is for work or pleasure, is an essential part of the human experience. If carrying a little bit of equipment means the difference between peace of mind and endless nights of worry, then it’s a small sacrifice to make. Pack up that machine of yours and hit the road.