Therapy & lifestyle

5 tips for getting through the holidays with sleep apnea

The holiday season is a joyous time of year. From getting together with friends and family to eating delicious meals and travelling, it's always a time to look forward to. But it can also cause unwanted stress that can negatively affect your sleep apnea condition. Follow along below as we outline certain steps you can take to make this holiday season pass by smoothly.

Pack spare parts and equipment

Like a lot of people around the country, you may be travelling this holiday season. Except, you have a few more pieces of luggage to account for before you hit the road: masks, hose setups, battery packs, the actual CPAP machine itself. But before you depart, consider packing extra or replacement CPAP supplies. Here are some additional essentials we think you'll want to have on the road with you1:

  • Proper power adaptors. Many newer model machines have universal power supplies, but in case you have an older one and you're leaving the country, the best practice is to bring an adaptor with the correct voltage.
  • Cushions. The cushions on your mask will eventually need to be replaced so have a few packed away as backups for when they do fail.
  • Prescription. In case your machine breaks down, has a malfunction or you need to replace a part, having your prescription will make replacing the proper supplies a breeze while you're far from home.
  • Extra battery pack. Power outages can happen at any time, but with a back-up battery pack you won’t be left high and dry when the lights suddenly go out. You can also choose to rent one if you don’t want to spend the extra cash for a new one.

Prepare for unfamiliar surroundings

Whether you're at a relative’s house or a hotel, staying in an unfamiliar setting with all of your sleep apnea equipment in tow can be a struggle.

Don't let the extra company and/or unfamiliar surroundings affect you negatively. Taking preventative steps like securing sleeping arrangements well before your arrival and finding a secure spot for your device to sit when not in use will help ease any of the added stress of being away from home.

Stay away from certain foods and drinks

The holidays are a time for reuniting with friends and family, exchanging gifts, taking time off work and of course, indulging in all sorts of delicious food and drink. You're going to be tempted to eat pretty much anything you want—those Thanksgiving Day football games are a foodies delight—but certain foods can have a negative effect on your sleep and sleep apnea condition. Here are some foods to avoid this holiday season2:

  • Red meat. Do your best to hold off on the steaks this year.
  • Anything fried. Doesn't matter if it's fried chicken, fish, zucchini or anything else, stay away from the fried stuff.
  • Eggnog. It's a dairy-base beverage that's made with milk egg whites and yolk, cream, sugar and milk. Since anything with high-fat dairy is a no-no, leave the eggnog to the rest of the family.

Don't let family matters disrupt you

Staying at a relative's house or having them stay with you can be heaps of fun. You get to mingle with people you haven't seen in a while and maybe even meet a new niece or nephew or two. But it can also be extremely stressful. Especially if you're carrying around your CPAP machine and all of its corresponding parts. Here's a few tips to keep the family stress of the holiday season to a minimum according to R. Morgan Griffin of WebMD3:

  • Positivity. If last year's holiday get together was a semi-disaster—obnoxious uncle, long-standing feuds between cousins, etcetera—show up this year as positive as ever. Your happiness may rub off on some of the usual curmudgeons.
  • Change it up. Instead of travelling far this year, try hosting at your house. You'll be in a comfortable, familiar setting with much more control over the entire situation.
  • Limit yourself. Just because you may be hosting doesn’t mean every minute of every day needs to be filled with activities. Set aside some time to relax and enjoy your personal face.

Travel accordingly

Traveling with your CPAP machine used to cause all sorts of trouble, but not anymore. New products like ResMed's AirMini™—the smallest portable CPAP on the market today—make traveling easy. However, as convenient as traveling with the AirMini may be, problems may still arise when going through airport security. Here are a couple small steps you can take to make your travelling experience as painless as possible4:

  • Medical tag. Not everyone does this, but we recommend placing a medical equipment luggage tag on the bag containing your CPAP device. Even though most airport security personnel have seen these machines plenty of times, it never hurts to have it properly labeled.
  • Be prepared. Before walking through the security line, have your device out of its bag and ready to go through the X-ray machine just like you would a computer. You never want to be the one holding up the line.

Whether you're traveling far or staying close to home, the holiday season always adds a little more pressure to your daily life and this season is no different. Hopefully, you find the above tips helpful in order to make this holiday season as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible.

 


1 https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/traveling-with-a-cpap-machine-take-cpap-machine-anywhere/.
2 https://www.livestrong.com/article/364229-foods-that-make-sleep-apnea-worse/.
3 https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/home-for-the-holdays-stress-tips#1 .
4. https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/traveling-with-a-cpap-machine-take-cpap-machine-anywhere

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