Alaska Sleep Education Center

The Great Outdoors with Sleep Apnea

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Apr 3, 2018 1:54:00 AM

With distractions filling 24 hours of a day from work, extracurriculars, commuting, and family responsibilities, the time to disconnect has never been more important. Open skies, fresh air, babbling brooks, and an electronic-free zone awaits. Camping, hiking, and backpacking offer opportunities to recharge and reconnect.

Many who are unfamiliar with longer camping trips may have anxiety or concerns how to get a restful night’s sleep in a tent under the stars. And many have a strong need to sleep well with sleep apnea plaguing their sleeping patterns. Though many blogs may focus on the “what to pack for your first hiking trip across the trails,” this article will help share some secrets to packing with a CPAP and other sleep apnea accessories.

What type of sleeping accessories are available for the outdoors?


Eye masks, ear plugs, and mattresses are not just for the indoors. Camping supplies like specialty sleeping accessories that aid your time in the woods can be purchased easily online or at stores. Each item is important to create the same ambiance that helps you sleep through the night peacefully at home.

  • Ear plugs: Block out rustling of leaves or brush and even a snoring friend that is your tent mate.
  • Eye masks: Important for trips in the northern latitudes or if you plan to camp in an area where it is daytime all day.
  • Mattresses and pads: Air mattresses can be blown-up without electrical outlets and pads can be purchased at different sizes and level of thickness. Hammocks are another option to avoid the need of a heavy pad since they can easily be carried and tied to two trees. Keep in mind that whatever your choice pick an easy to carry option for your backpack or to carry to a campsite.
  • Sleeping bags: Depending on the climate and tent size, talk to a professional before purchasing a sleeping bag. You may need a warmer bag for some seasons or locations or a wider bag for car-camping. There are a lot of choices so do not get overwhelmed.
  • Pillows: For some, the pillow is critical from a master bedroom to a hotel room to a tent. Once again, depending on your trip distance choose a pillow either inflatable, travel, or full-size based upon your trip.
  • Netting: An important addition to a camping trip may require netting from mosquitos if you are traveling to a part of the world that may be prone to malaria. It can also help protect your sleeping area from flies, fleas, ticks, and other pesky insects.

What if there is no access to electricity?

It is 2018. Even without electricity, you can enjoy the great outdoors and still have a restful night’s sleep. A few options are available with strong battery life while traveling. And if backpacking or camping grants little space in your pack, the Z1 is the lightest CPAP machine on the market at only 10 ounces and 6.5 inches long. Purchasing the Z1 from Alaska Sleep Clinic grants customers a trained DME technician that will call within 24-48 hours of purchase.

A second option is the Transcend Auto Mini CPAP weighs less than one pound and is a fully-featured APAP with EZEX pressure relief technology providing more breathing comfort. Unique to this CPAP with a “military grade construction” is Transcend’s 14-hour battery and solar panel recharge ability.

Other options include a rechargeable portable power supply or utilizing your vehicle’s battery. The great news is the Transcend model is FAA approved so if plan travel is part of your destination, it is a safe accessory.

How can I keep my CPAP clean?


Sanitary CPAP masks and machines keep you healthier and extend the life of your machine. Depending on the size and model of your machine, you will need distilled water. Try and plan ahead how you can transport it in your pack in a travel bottle that can easily clip to the bag.

An extra filter may be a good idea since you will be in the outdoors where it can be dusty. Mask cleaning wipes are your best bet to keeping certain the machine is well taken care of. You can even purchase a travel, lightweight mask to easily travel with in your pack.

How do I not bother others in the campsite with the machine noise?

Scattering sound is common when adjusting to life with a cpap. Try explaining to others that the machine can act as a catalyst for background noise to help the brain focus on the sleep cycle.

For some, ear plugs may help if the sound is too cumbersome, though newer models are not too noisy. A goodwill gesture may include purchasing ear plugs for others that are in tight sleeping quarters with you if they express a love for sleeping in silence or enjoy the simple noises of the great outdoors without a machine’s sound.

If you are traveling with strangers or have others who might find the machine annoying or distracting, share your story. Many others are uneducated on the risks of sleep apnea and may learn a thing or two about the importance that your CPAP brings to the trip. And if you have an opportunity in advance you may find others on common ground who want to learn more about sleep apnea. Our sleep clinic offers a free e-book you can download and share with others.

Best practices work anywhere

Overall, bring your best practices from home to the outdoors. Continue eating light meals prior to bedtime which will be earlier than normal without the distraction of electronics and may be exhausted from outdoor activities from the day. Raise the head of your sleeping pad or mattress to help sleep at a small incline.

Hopefully you are now inspired to travel more often, disconnect from the everyday while still resting comfortably at night. Don’t skimp on the necessities when camping. With modern technology and experts in the camping sections of stores, you can travel easily away from home with your CPAP machine and accessories to enjoy the great outdoors. It is not fair to limit your adventures to the conditions you suffer at night.

If you're needing any additional information on traveling with a CPAP machine where you may be disconnected from everyday modern accommodations, or would like to purchase a travel specific CPAP machine, feel free to contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic.

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Topics: CPAP Masks, travel, cpap accessories

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