Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Any backpackers with Sleep Apnea?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jeff Black
(thehikingdude) - F
Any backpackers with Sleep Apnea? on 03/06/2006 20:10:05 MST Print View

I've had sleep apnea for years now and have to sleep with a CPAP machine at home to get a decent nights sleep. Of course this has a very negative effect on my backpacking trips as I wake up numerous times throughout the night and in general get very little sleep. I've not been able to find an extenstion cord long enough to bring it with me. ;-)

Is there anybody out there that deals with this? How do you deal with the lack of sleep?


Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
sleep apnea on 03/07/2006 08:02:54 MST Print View

Hi, I also have sleep apnea, moderate case, obstructive, use CPAP, 7 setting. I don't have any great ideas but wanted to offer some guesses and support. Try sleeping more on the side or stomach for obstructive vs central apnea. You can train yourself a bit at home with a bike shirt and a tennis ball in the rear pocket-that's one method the docs reccomend for some cases but I'd check since I don't know your type of apnea. Possible risk is you get used to that instead of the mask on your back. I carry a lot more padding than most UL folks to make side or stomach sleeping comfortable. I am going to try a hammock this year in hopes of it sitting me up a bit more and see how that works. I know if I sleep in a recliner at home I don't get obstructed. Another issue is closed bivy sacks. If you O2 sat drops too low i would guess that may be a risk in a closed bivy where the 02 sat is lower anyway. At the least, a less restfull nights sleep. I use a wire hoop in my bivy and leave a good size face area vent with the bug net open or closed and that keeps the fresh air exchange good. Any altitude and common sense says the problem could be worse. Another idea is a nap or two, 30-55min in the day sitting up and a shorter time sleeping at night since apnea comes in cycles for some folks. Maybe why I like to night hike a bit more than most. Good Luck.

Edited by mountainlaureldesigns on 03/07/2006 08:04:20 MST.

Jeff Black
(thehikingdude) - F
thx on 03/07/2006 12:47:08 MST Print View

It would be worth a try, that's for sure. I've heard about that idea before, but never tried it. Mine is set at 8 so we must be fairly close.

Thanks, Jeff

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
sleep apnea on 03/13/2006 18:54:33 MST Print View

A friend of mine who climbs at elevations where Chene Stokes Syndrome is a problem, even for people who don't experience sleep apnea at sea level, has used Diamox 500 mg time release caplets with good success. He is a podiatrist and, so, can self prescribe. You might want to run this idea by your personal physician and see what he thinks. Diamox is ordinarily used to treat High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, and high altitude climbers frequently use it prophylactically for that purpose, but it apparently also is effective in at least some people for elevation induced sleep apnea. Good luck.

Steven Sergeant
(SteveSgt) - F
Didgeridoo on 04/01/2006 15:58:19 MST Print View

This article asserts that learning to play the Australian aboriginal instrument known as the Didgeridoo could be a partial or complete cure for snoring and mild sleep apnea:

John Mowery
(Mow) - F

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Re: Backpackers with Speep Apnea on 04/02/2006 22:09:57 MDT Print View

I can't say I have sleep apnea, but I do snore very bad and don't normally get a very restful nights sleep. This is regardless of whether or not I am at home or in the bush.

I have started sleeping in a Hennessy Hammock when I'm in the backcountry. I honestly speep better in the hammock then I do in my bed - and I don't snore nearly as much. Perhaps this will help you??

Jeff Black
(thehikingdude) - F
Re: Re: Backpackers with Speep Apnea on 04/04/2006 23:22:30 MDT Print View

Some interesting thoughts. More to look into that's for sure.

thx, jeff

Jay Humphreys
(jjh227) - F
Re: Any backpackers with Sleep Apnea? on 07/28/2007 15:05:38 MDT Print View

In my experience the Hennessey makes my snoring worse. I did a 4 day trip into the smokies last week and by the 2nd day my throat (obstructive sleep apnea) was so sore i felt like i had strep throat. I love the hammock, it's cozy, easy to deal with and light, but it won't work for me right now.

I've considered getting a Xantrex Powerpack ( ) and see how that works out if i'm not too far into the backcountry.
Supposedly it will run a CPAP machine for a couple of nights without a recharge.

However i agree with the poster who said that sleeping on your side or stomach is a good way to deal with it out in the woods. The 3rd night of my last trip we had a clear night and all slept on our pads out by the fire and i didn't have the problems i had in the hammock. The hammock is just so damned cool that i hate to give it up. Maybe it's time to drop about 40 pounds and try it again sometime.

FYI i'll be lugging the xantrex off to a trip to Fonanta Lake in a couple of weeks if anyone is interested i'll let you know how it goes.



Franklin TN

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
apnea on 07/30/2007 09:02:08 MDT Print View

I've has severe obstructive SA and use a cpap at home and, with a battery and inverter, on car-camping trips (with boy scouts). I do backpacking too, though it's kinda hard to take the car-camp setup :).

My dentist made an appliance that pulls my lower jaw forward (caled silent nite?). That, with Diamox and a muscle relaxant (forget the name) make 2 week outings possible. I don't get great sleep, but it's passible.


Julio Villanueva
(Jmaan33) - F
Sleep Apnea on 08/27/2007 21:38:22 MDT Print View

I just got back from a 2 night backpacking trip in the Sierra's and I had a very difficult time sleeping. This really scared me because I really want to continue to backpack but how can I ever do this when I hardly sleep. The only thing I can think of is using one of those air chairs and sleep sitting up. Anyone have any suggestions whatsoever? My cpap setting is at 14 so I have severe osa. Any suggestions would help.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Sleep Apnea on 08/28/2007 08:00:55 MDT Print View

Julio, speak with your physician about what he might recommend.

Julio Villanueva
(Jmaan33) - F
Thanks on 08/29/2007 22:05:55 MDT Print View

Thx Matt. I will give my md a call and get her opinion.

Steve Parr
(srparr) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
Dental Appliance on 09/04/2007 18:15:36 MDT Print View

I have severe sleep apnea, and have to use a CPAP at home. Week-long hikes were an endurance event because I wasn't getting any restful sleep, but then I decided to try a dental appliance and see how it would work. It works decent for me, but not quite as well as a CPAP. I can get a good nights sleep on the trail using this and a nasal strip while sleeping on my side.

I hike mostly on Isle Royale, so haven't tried this at altitude ... but it should still be better than just hoping for the best. I do try to get a good nights sleep before starting a hike, and try to include a lazy "recovery" day in my hike schedule afterwards.

DISCLAIMER: I am just a satisfied user, and have no other relationship with the makers of the TAP II.

Edited by srparr on 09/04/2007 18:19:19 MDT.

Steve Parr
(srparr) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
Apnea and Altitude on 09/18/2008 18:36:16 MDT Print View

Anyone know any details on how apnea and mountain sickness interact? Would an apnea sufferer be at higher risk when at altitude than someone without apnea?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Apnea and Altitude on 09/18/2008 20:22:25 MDT Print View

Yes, because your breathing is restricted and it is increased breathing that will help you acclimate.

Bernard Campo
(ANewConvert) - F
Battery Powered CPAP on 10/13/2008 19:53:03 MDT Print View

I'm aware the that this topic is rather old, but I thought I would add a bit to it.
There are a small variety of battery powered CPAP machines. The above link will run a CPAP for about 12 hours a 10 centimeter of water pressure, or 10 hours a 12 cwp. The original poster was at 7 cwp, so given a spare battery he could theoretically run this CPAP at his pressure for a solid 3 nights, 4 if he is lucky.

Also its recommended that you use your CPAP for 8 hours if possible, but if you are looking to stretch the battery you could run it for the first half of the night and then the last hour or so you are asleep would extend the battery and let you get some sleep. The first part of the night because your first good run of slow wave sleep (brain rest) and REM sleep (body rest) will happen in the first 90 minutes assuming you are tired from your day. 4 hours of CPAP at the start of the night will cover two REM cycles in all likelihood. The last hour will almost certainly be REM sleep as your brain tends to go to REM in the last hour, particularly if you haven't been sleeping well over the past 3 because you are saving battery.


btw, I am a 7 year registered sleep technologist.

Piaw Na
(choonpiaw) - F
My solution is to carry a big huge battery on 01/20/2009 23:09:46 MST Print View

My plan is now to carry a Battery Geek C-222:

It powers a Puritan Benett machine, and for me, at 8 hours a night, it should go for 5 nights or so. (I'm about to go to Tasmania and will do a 5 night trip there) I was asymptomatic, however (i.e., can tell no difference between using the machine or not), so I'm doing this purely so I don't get a stroke at 55 like my father did.

The battery itself weighs a good 5 pounds --- so much for ultralight backpacking...

Piaw Na
(choonpiaw) - F
after not finding any real information on the internets about this issue.. on 01/21/2009 00:00:12 MST Print View

I've summarized my experience here:

Reginald Donaldson
(worth) - MLife

Locale: Wind River Range
Pillar Palatal Implant on 01/21/2009 15:46:24 MST Print View

You might want to investigate the Pillar Palatal Implant. It is an outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic that takes about an hour. Plastic like rods are implanted into the soft palate to stiffen it; thus, keeping it from collapsing.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Apnea on 01/22/2009 10:16:32 MST Print View

If a machine would run 4 hours, that would work great for me. No matter how hard I try, I always find the mask on the floor by the bed in the morning.