Sleep & Travel When Living With CF

It is important to consider how sleep and travel can have an impact on daily routines



Sleep is essential for general health and well-being, but many cystic fibrosis (CF) patients experience poor or disturbed sleep. There are many things that might affect sleep quality in people with CF including coughing, certain medications and the increased work of breathing.1

Sleep disruption and nocturnal hypoxia (reduced oxygen supply) are common in people with CF, and in some cases, oxygen therapy might be required.2 If you are having difficulty sleeping or notice a change in your sleeping habits, please speak to your doctor for advice.


Sleepovers and sleeping in

If you are going on a sleepover, remember to take enough medicine with you for the time you will be away from home. If you plan to have a sleep in on weekends or holidays plan the time you will take your treatment so that you do not miss a dose.



Whenever you are going to be away from home make sure that you plan ahead so that you have all the medication you will need.

Before longer holidays, and especially if you will be travelling interstate or overseas, it is a good idea to agree your treatment plans with your doctor.

If you know that you are travelling away from home:

  • Take an extra few days’ worth of medication and other supplies with you, for example some extra tablets or nebuliser masks, in case your return home is delayed
  • Think about storing extra tablets separately just in case you misplace or lose one lot of medication
  • Take fat-containing food and snacks with you, or check that you can obtain them in the place that you will be staying This can still be a healthy snack, such as a small handful of nuts or seeds
  • Ask if there is a place where you can have your physiotherapy treatment, or find a physiotherapist near to where you will be staying
  • Check that there will be a plug socket available if needed to plug your nebuliser in and remember to take a travel adaptor with you if going overseas
  • If you can’t carry out your usual exercise routine, go for a walk instead
  • Keep others informed and have your doctor or nurse’s contact details to hand in case you need to ask their advice

Travelling interstate or overseas

Living with CF doesn’t have to stop you travelling interstate or overseas, it just requires some planning.

Remember to talk to your doctor or nurse about any trips you are considering. They will be able to discuss the healthcare facilities available in your intended destination, and any country-specific considerations.

Preparing your documents

Before travelling, make sure you have all the documents you need for travelling with medicines and for accessing medical care at your destination.

These may include:3

  • A detailed medical report and vaccination history (in English)
  • A customs certificate to show you are permitted to travel with medicines, needles and an oxygen tank (depending on your needs). A letter from your doctor explaining which medicines are required and approximate quantities may also be useful
  • Details of your insurance policy including an emergency contact
  • Contact details for your CF care team at home
  • Contact details for a CF clinic or well-equipped hospital at your destination
  • Contact details for a local patient association (if there is one).


Whilst travelling

There are wide range of factors to consider while travelling abroad, from infection risks when traveling by aeroplane, to the requirements for safe medicine transport, changes in climate, time zones and the extent of local CF care facilities.3 These should all be discussed with your CF care team prior to departure.

If you are travelling by aeroplane it is a good idea to make your airline aware of your requirements well in advance of the travel date, ideally at time of booking and again a few days before departure. The airline should provide the support you need to board the plane safely and keep you comfortable throughout the flight. If you are travelling with oxygen you may need to make specific arrangements for this.3

If you are travelling with medications these should ideally be carried as hand luggage. If this isn’t possible a one week supply should be kept with you, just in case a suitcase goes missing.3

    1. Jankelowitz L, Reid K, Wolfe L et al. Cystic fibrosis patients have poor sleep quality despite normal sleep latency and efficiency. Chest. 2005; 127(5): 1593–1599.

    2. de Castro-Silva C, de Bruin VM, Cavalcante AG, et al. Nocturnal hypoxia and sleep disturbances in cystic fibrosis. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2009; 44: 1143–1150.

    3. Hirche T, et al. Travelling with cystic fibrosis: Recommendations for patients and care team members. J Cyst Fibros. 2010;9:385-399.

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    If you have any questions about the content on this site please speak to a member of your CF care team.

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