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Jet-lag & sleep apnea solutions: travel tips for CPAP users

Having travelled a long distance and changing time zones, it’s no surprise that sleep apnea sufferers feel the effects of jet lag far worse than others. There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your sleep goes relatively uninterrupted when you’re at home, like having the right pillow and understanding certain terminology to help you adjust your machine to suit your needs, but what about those times when you need to travel long distance?

To help you enjoy the benefits of good sleep on your next trip, we’ve pulled together sleeping tips from top experts1, travel experts2 and business experts3.

1. Be prepared

Planning ahead can make a world of difference. Shift your bedtime gradually in the days before you leave. If you’re flying east, early is best; if you’re flying west, delay your rest.

2. Get in the groove from the get-gos

If possible, choose a flight that arrives in the evening and go to bed around 10pm local time. If you’re too tired to stay awake until bedtime, take a nap. But keep it short – 20 minutes is ideal and 2 hours is the max – and make sure it’s not too late in the day.

3. Catch some sun

Our biological clock responds strongly to daylight, so time your exposure to sunlight to ease your arrival. Go outside in the late afternoon if you’ve travelled west, and stay inside in the evening if you’ve travelled east.

4. Be smartphone savvy

Two tips in one. First, update your phone alarms so you’re not woken by reminders or alarms from the wrong time zone. Second, turn off your screens at least an hour before you want to sleep (that includes in-flight movies!).

Need more help with your CPAP therapy?


Do you feel like your CPAP treatment is getting less effective? Do you need advice with your equipment, comfort or making the treatment fit around your lifestyle? Book in a therapy checkup session at your nearest CPAP Australia store where our experts will talk to you about your personal experience with CPAP and give you some great advice to get you back on track again.

As a bonus, we can also clean and check your existing CPAP equipment to ensure you get the most out of your therapy. 

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5. Avoid alcohol

The in-flight drinks may be calling your name, but stay away if you want to beat jet-lag. Alcohol can help you to drift off, but it worsens flight-related dehydration and disrupts sleep. If you struggle to sleep on planes, ask your doctor for advice about sleep medication before you leave.

6. Use coffee (wisely)

Enjoy that espresso, but only if you’re planning to stay awake for at least the next seven hours. If you just need to survive a couple of hours until bedtime, steel yourself and stick to water.

7. Shut out the world

Keep earplugs and an eye mask handy to block out the sound of your neighbours chatting, the baby crying in the row behind and the noise of the engines. These two bits of kit are tiny and easy to carry, but they could mean the difference between no-sleep and some-sleep on the plane. You’ll also appreciate them if you need to adjust to new daylight hours at your destination.

8. Be gentle on yourself

If possible, don’t plan any big trips, major sight-seeing or important presentations for the first day or two after your flight. If it can’t be avoided, build some relaxation into your schedule before your leave. One trick is to act as though your flight is leaving 48-hours earlier than it is and get all your last-minute tasks completed in advance. Easier said than done…

9. Use light-therapy to help you adjust to your time zone

Jet lag is caused by a misalignment between your sleep rhythm (internal body clock) and your destination time. When you travel across time zones, your body doesn’t know whether to be awake or asleep. This causes you to feel jet lagged.

There is a product called Re-Timer, which CPAP Australia sells, that uses light therapy to help you adjust back to a normal sleep pattern. If you have a set or Re-timer glasses, make sure you use this handy calculator to plan your trip! 

10. Take your CPAP

Being on CPAP therapy should never stop you from travelling.

With a standard universal power supply, most CPAP, APAP and bilevel sleep apnea solutions can be used throughout the world and even on an aeroplane. It’s important to make sure you remember the power adaptor and an extension cord. This helps to make travelling with your therapy equipment relaxed, comfortable and easy.

If you are considering using your CPAP machine on your flight, it is important to contact your airline to discuss your details and make any necessary arrangements.

Find out more about the best sleeping tips for traveling with your CPAP machine by reading our post “Seven tips to falling asleep on CPAP”. This blog will help you to be sure that you’re getting the most out of your sleep and your machine every night, especially when you’re traveling.

Happy travels!


1 https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/jet-lag-and-sleep

2 http://www.lonelyplanet.com/planes-and-trains/best-of-planes-and-trains/content/travel-tips-and-articles/how-to-beat-jet-lag

3 http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2014/04/08/beating-jet-lag-8-ways-youre-doing-it-wrong-and-how-to-do-it-right/3/#2715e4857a0b6bccda24c379

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