People who have sleep apnea know that it can ruin their traveling dreams. It is estimated that up to 20% of the population experiences some form of sleep disorder at some point in their lives, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder. Sleep apnea can make traveling seem like a distant dream for many since they need to carry bulky machines with them wherever they sleep. Nevertheless, there are a few suggestions that might bring that dream closer to reality.
Sleep apnea is sometimes called obstructive sleep apnea because the airway is blocked during sleep. To be diagnosed with sleep apnea, the doctor will measure the person’s Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI). This is a measurement of how many times during the night you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds. It is a severe sleep disorder characterized by the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep. While this temporary cessation is only a nuisance to some, it can have devastating consequences for others. As a result of sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk of heart attack, strokes, and it can put your life in danger. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness due to interrupted breathing while you are asleep. Sleep apnea affects over 22 million Americans, and many more are still undiagnosed.
While it might not affect your everyday life, it can put a dent in proceedings if you want to travel anywhere long distance. This is because the machines needed to regulate breathing throughout the night. These are often bulky and need to be set up in a specific way. Furthermore, if you travel anywhere outside of the USA, you will need to remember to bring along a converter to reduce the worldwide 220 v to the US 110 v system. Nevertheless, many people will carry a travel CPAP machine with them, which is a smaller and more convenient device. When you go away on vacation, there is always a part of you that wonders if you should bring your CPAP machine or if you need it at all. The good news is that with the machine designed for travel, you can get a good night’s sleep anywhere, regardless of the noise, the humidity, or the temperature.
Fortunately, it is possible to not only travel but to enjoy it and not worry so much about your health by following a few simple steps.
As with anything to do with traveling, you should plan as much as possible. For most people, this might mean a few weeks in advance, but those suffering from sleep apnea may need to take a little longer. Some of the things you will need to consider are similar to how others will plan, but there are some apnea specific things you should consider:
CPAP machines tend to contain appreciable amounts of metal and, when packed away tightly, can resemble something more sinister. This can be incredibly frustrating when traveling via air due to the scanning of luggage. This is further compounded in countries with little knowledge of sleep apnea and where you might be subject to questioning. However, most of this can be averted by merely talking to your airline in advance. It is sometimes possible to get a special card to show security personnel at the various airport checkpoints that will inform them what you are carrying. In addition, you might need to use the machine when flying, so checking if this is possible beforehand could alleviate some hassle onboard.
Anyone who travels understands the importance of packing well. However, if you have sleep apnea, you will have to be even more thorough. Some packing requirements you will need to keep in mind include:
It would be best if you kept your prescription with you while traveling. Firstly, you will be able to prove your luggage’s authenticity if you lose it. Furthermore, if the machine breaks down while you’re traveling, you will be able to show your prescription to shops that sell these devices. It is far more straightforward than having to explain things. You can also find out which suppliers are available where you intend to travel by asking your current CPAP provider.
Traveling when you have sleep apnea can seem like a daunting prospect, but it needn’t be. With some pre-planning, intelligent packing, and the correct device, you will find the perfect trip is within your reach.