Page title ‘Sleep and Travel’ with illustration on the right-hand side of a woman sleeping and smiling in her bed, with an open book on her duvet, and a bubble on her left revealing that she is dreaming about travelling and sitting on a beach with a yellow sun hat, under a green and white umbrella.

Sleep and CF

Photograph of an Asian woman sleeping comfortably on her back, in blue pyjamas, sheets and duvet, with a pair of glasses and a white lamp on the bedside table next to her.

Whether you are travelling, studying, or working, it is vital to maintain a good sleeping pattern. A good night’s sleep has been linked to sustaining a balanced physical and mental health, as well as good mood, academic performance, and cognitive function.1-4

Routine and habits

If you find yourself having trouble relaxing or sleeping, you can try a few things; for example, establishing a daily routine that involves reading, gentle stretches, meditation, or switching off your phone early before bed. Establish good habits, such as having a balanced nutrition, exercising and avoiding caffeine or nicotine. If you are worried about something, you can try chatting to a relative or friend, or make a to-do list to help you plan for the next day. Finally, do not forget to create a restful environment in your bedroom, like maintaining a

temperature that is comfortable for you and wearing earplugs or playing ambient sounds, such as rainfall, to help cancel out any noise that may be preventing you from falling asleep.5,6

Speak to your CF team

The reasons for not falling or staying asleep can sometimes be linked to your CF.3,4,7,8 Do not hesitate to inform your CF team of any sleep issues, as they can further investigate and suggest possible solutions or treatments that can help you sustain a more balanced sleep pattern.3,8

 

Travel and CF

Travelling can be relaxing, stimulating and enjoyable, whether you wish to attend a music festival, have a vacation to another country, or take a gap year between education and work so you can gain new experiences, earn some money and have a break.9 Having cystic fibrosis (CF) should not stop you from doing things you like, but you may wish to do some research and planning before travelling.

Preparation

When booking a trip, consider destinations and activities that will fit with your daily routine and will allow you to maximise your experience away from home.10-14 It is advisable to check your clinical status with your CF team and that you are fit to travel, taking into consideration any necessary vaccinations for the destination country or any medication required for CF management.12,15 You may also wish to

Photograph of a young white couple (man and woman) with backpacks, looking at a map and smiling during their travels, with a water fountain and European-style houses in the background.

discuss ways to effectively maintain your treatment schedule while travelling.14 If you are carrying any medication, you may wish to have a letter prepared explaining your condition and why it is essential to have your medication on your carry-on luggage.12 Your CF team will be able to advise you on any important considerations during your trip regarding your condition, while your airline/cruise will be able to inform you on any limitations or costs that may be important to you.11,12

Packing

Consider any requirements you may have during your trips and plan accordingly beforehand. You may want to have a list of items you will have to bring with you prior to travelling, such as any medication you may need at the time. You may also want to bring a copy of your current prescription/list of medicines in case of emergency or requirement for further supplies and details of your emergency contacts, including your CF team contacts. Consider packing excess medication in case of accidental damage/loss, or extension of your trip, and ensure that it is stored and carried in the right conditions.12 You may also want to carry water and snacks with you and think about your food options at your destination in advance.11,16,17

Accommodation

It is important to book appropriate accommodation prior to travelling, ensuring that facilities suit your requirements (catering, easy access to fridge for food/medication, easy access to toilets).12,13,16

Healthcare support

Consult government websites to make note of healthcare assistance in the region/country you will be visiting.12,18,19 With the help of your CF team, you can search for local hospitals and A&E departments in case of a medical emergency, medicine refill needs, or any assistance you may require.12,14,18,19 Your CF team should also be able to help you with specific medical documents, such as a certificate for customs (e.g. for carrying medication), a detailed medical report, or a statement outlining your medical condition to any sites or attraction parks you may visit.12 Consider translating this into the language of your destination country.

Travel insurance

It is vital that you get comprehensive travel insurance before travelling abroad to avoid facing massive costs if you require any medical treatment while you are away. When selecting your travel insurance provider, make sure you choose a company that will cover people with pre-existent medical conditions such as CF and that the policy does not have any clauses that stop it from applying to you. It is advisable to insure the whole party under the same policy, so that everyone's costs are covered if any emergency arises on holiday or if the holiday gets cancelled. Read the insurance policy carefully as some insurance companies do not cover loss of medications. If you are in doubt, ask the insurance company you are dealing with and/or the travel agent.20

Precautions

Remain cautious of airborne viruses and other diseases that may be circulating in modes of transport.21,22 Keep an eye out on the government guidance and regulations of the region/country you will be visiting.9,11 Some of the precautions you can take are wearing a mask, washing/sanitising your hands and cleaning your surroundings with disinfectant wipes.12,16,22

    1.  Scott AJ et al. Sleep Med Rev 2021;60:101556.

    2. Besedovsky L et al. Physiol Rev 2019;99:1325–1380.

    3. Shakkottai A et al. Sleep Med Rev 2018;42:100–110.

    4. Shakkotai A et al. Sleep Med 2020;74:57–65.

    5. Reiter J et al. Sleep Med Rev 2020;51:101279.

    6. Jagpal SK et al. Pediatr Pulmonol 2021;56 Suppl 1:S23–S31.

    7. Hirche TO et al. J Cyst Fibros 2010;9:385–399.

    8. O’Doherty M et al. Ulster Med J 2022;91:53–55.

    9. Miller R et al. Respir Med 2017;125:92–93.

    10. Webb AK. Thorax 2001;56:821–822.

    11. Fainardi V et al. Acta Biomed 2020;91:e2020035.

    Related Resources

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