Traveling with CPAP Machine & Sleeping on an Airplane

Sleeping on an Airplane With CPAP

Getting ready to catch a flight? Be sure to pack your CPAP machine! That’s right, CPAP air travel is more possible now than ever before, thanks to the growing awareness of sleep apnea among doctors, the public, and government officials responsible for regulating air travel restrictions. Plus, even more convenient is the availability of easily portable sleep apnea machines and travel-sized CPAP machines, leaving extra room for other carry-on necessities. 

But, before you just hop on the next flight, ResMed shared some things you should do before taking off with your CPAP:

  • Pack your CPAP prescription from your doctor in your CPAP case.
  • Seat Guru*: Pick a seat with access to power if you need to use your CPAP machine on a long flight. Also, bring your airline’s phone number and website with you to check their assisted device policy. The airline has the final approval for in-flight usage.
  • FAA Compliance Letter: Download and keep with your CPAP machine.
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Review the airport security page for medical conditions to confirm the process for CPAP machines.
  • Review airline policies for using CPAP machines for in-flight use and restrictions for carry-ons.
  • Review a checklist of documents to take with you.

Tips for Sleeping While Flying from Valley Sleep Center Founder

Valley Sleep Center Founder, Lauri Leadley, flies all over the world as she works to help people get better sleep. Here are some of her most effective personal tips for sleeping while flying.

  1. Pick the best seat for sleep. When it comes to sleeping on an airplane, you have to plan, and the best rest starts with sitting in the best seat, which is in the front of the plane by the window where there is a little more room. After the flight takes off, bring your carry-on down from the overhead bins and use it to elevate your feet. This will help with blood flow and make you feel more comfortable. Stay away from aisle seats and any seat in the back row.
  2. Wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. In a recent study, 51% of people said that earplugs or noise-canceling headphones were the number one choice to help them get their best sleep on a plane. You can also listen to a meditation app for sleep such as the one I lead, called NamaSleep.
  3. Secure your head, so it doesn't bob when you fall asleep. Many airlines are doing away with reclining seats, making it difficult to sleep comfortably, if at all. Laura's solution? Use a thin scarf to tie around your forehead and the seatback to secure your head, so it doesn't bob when you go to sleep. Bonus? The scarf in this position serves as a great eye mask. You can use a gadget like the ZzzBand Airline Pilot Created Travel Pillow Alternative, a headband made with soft fleece and an integrated adjustable strap designed to be used with the adjustable headrest (not the seat back) in economy seating.
  4. Bring your own blanket. Gone are the days when airlines passed out blankets like candy. If you want a blanket, you need to bring your own. One thing I like to do is to bring a heavy zippered sweatshirt or coat. Turn the sweatshirt around and put your arms in the sleeves and wear it backward. Your arms stay warm, and your "blanket" won't fall off.
  5. Wear an eye mask. Light disrupts your circadian rhythm preventing you from falling asleep, so an eye mask is a must. 
  6. Drink plenty of water and avoid salty food and alcohol. Airplanes are a very dry environment that naturally dehydrates you. When that happens, you feel fatigued, suffer headaches, nausea, and more. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water for every hour you are in the air on flights over three hours. If you must have a cocktail, follow it with a glass of water to make up for its dehydrating effects.
  7. Put antibiotic ointment under your nostrils. The antibiotic ointment helps with dryness in your nose and blocks any germs floating around in the air.

Sleeping on an airplane can be difficult, but all it takes is a little preparation to turn that experience into a good one so you can arrive at your destination perfectly rested and ready to go!

Sleeping on an Airplane With Inspire

As face coverings are still an in-flight requirement due to COVID-19, it poses some challenges for wearing your CPAP mask during travel. But, perfect for this situation and for those who just can not tolerate CPAP is Inspire Therapy, a FDA-approved outpatient sleep apnea surgery. 

Inspire Procedure

The Inspire system is entirely composed of a small battery and two small wires. During an outpatient procedure, licensed Inspire sleep doctors place the system through three small incisions beneath the neck and chest skin. Most commonly, patients will return home that same day and feel well to resume non-strenuous activities in the days to follow. However, over-the-counter pain medication can be used for mild pain management.

Inspire Process

Inspire Therapy works inside the body with a person’s natural breathing process, delivering mild stimulation to key airway muscles and allowing the airway to remain open throughout the night. The patient is provided a handheld remote to operate the Inspire sleep implant that they will turn on before bed and off in the morning. That’s it! Additionally, they can choose to pause therapy for any reason and increase or decrease the settings.

With the Inspire sleep implant, patients are offered an easy, comfortable, less-intrusive treatment method that ultimately paves the way for many restful flights to come.

Now you’re ready to travel comfortably with your CPAP. If you need a new travel CPAP or other equipment, visit Valley Sleep Therapy for all your travel CPAP machine and accessory needs.