Traveling With Sleep Disorders


travelwithcpapWhen my wife and I were planning to take a trip to Europe, the first thing that occurred to me was my sleep disorders.  How was I going to sleep on the plane?  My CPAP machine wouldn’t have a place to plug into on the flight and if I didn’t use it then my snoring would definitely cause the plane to be grounded.  As you would imagine, I had some anxiety about this issue.  I consulted my doctor and medical supply company about my concern.

First, I asked my sleep doctor about the problem.  She suggested that I look into getting a battery powered travel CPAP machine.  I checked into it and there is such a device; however, insurance doesn’t cover it and the medical supply company does not allow payments on it.  The DreamStation Go Auto CPAP costs $999 so that was clearly not an option.

Next, I considered sleeping without the CPAP and finding something that would silence my snoring.  It was highly recommended that I should try a new product call Provent Therapy which are adhesive strips attached to each nostril designed to maintain airflow.  I bought these and tried them at home and they were not effective for me.  I’m even doubting some of these “success” stories about this therapy.

With nothing to help me with flying an international flight with my sleep disorders, I decided I would just try to stay awake and use my CPAP machine once I got to my destination.  Fortunately, I managed to stay awake with a few short naps on the trip.  IF you are concerned about snoring, let me assure you that the jet noise will usually drown out moderate snoring.  Of course, if you are like me and you are off-the-charts on the snoring scale, you either take shorter naps or stay awake.

Once we arrived in Europe, I used my CPAP machine as I would back at home as I used an adapter to adjust to the different power connections in each country.  This worked out pretty well and I had no problems with the machine.  The only issue was the changes in the air in each room which caused my throat and nose to be dried out the next morning.

The other issue with the CPAP machine was packing it and making room in my carryon luggage.  In spite of my best attempts of keeping the bag with me, I was forced by the airlines to check it on a flight.  I was obviously concerned about that but it turned out okay as my bag made it to my destination without being damaged.  I also had no problems with the machine going through security.  I’m guessing TSA is pretty familiar with these devices by now.  I did keep my machine in a large Ziploc back to protect it in case it was removed for inspection.

In the end, traveling with my sleep disorders worked out okay.  I never slept much on the flights and if I did they were short “cat naps” and my CPAP machine survived the trip.

Personally, since sleep disorders are a medical condition, airlines should make allowances for this and provide seats where you can plug in your CPAP machine for long flights without additional cost of sitting in upgraded seats.

While traveling with sleep disorders are a cause of concern, you can survive it and relieve your anxieties by preparing in advance of your trip.  If you can’t afford the ridiculously expensive travel CPAP, find something that works and test it out.

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