The summer holidays are finally here, and the prospect of sea, surf, sand and sangria looms larger than the beer belly we’re sure to come back with. But before all the fun and frolics can start, we first need to negotiate the flight. And whether it’s short or long haul, under an hour or overnight, the plane is the perfect time to try and catch a little shut eye before all the merriment commences. So, with the help of Neil Robinson, Sealy UK’s resident sleep expert, here are 7 IDEAL tips for sleeping on the plane.
AVOID THAT PRE-HOLIDAY TIPPLE
While a nice glass of wine or a refreshing beer might be a tempting way to kick start the holiday – we’ve all been there, reveling in the normality of an airport glass of wine at 9am – please do try to exercise some restraint. Alcohol can have a negative impact on the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is often considered the most restorative part of the sleep cycle. While you may fall asleep faster after a couple of drinks, you’ll spend less time in your REM phase of sleep – meaning you’re more likely to feel unrested and drowsy when you step off the plane. There are plenty of other ways to stay relaxed during the flight, without the assistance of several massive gins.
BRING YOUR EYE MASK
Planes are full of bright lights – from overhead reading lights to the blue glare emitted by the TV screens – all of which can have a negative impact on our state of slumber. When we witness a light form, it stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to the brain which stops us from feeling tired, making it harder to drift off. Blue lights are especially detrimental, affecting the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupting our circadian rhythm. Wearing an eye mask will help to block out these lights, helping you to fall – and stay – asleep.
IDEAL Editor’s Top Tip: Similar to covering your eyes with a facemask, consider covering your whole head with a pashmina. Not only does it block out the aforementioned disruptive light, but if you’re a self conscious sleeper, it hides your face too.
While it may be tempting to watch a film or read on your tablet during the flight, the blue light emitted from the screens impacts our levels of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, as we already mentioned. By avoiding technology for a minimum of 30 minutes before you’re planning to get some kip, you can help ensure a more restful time onboard.
PICK YOUR SEAT CAREFULLY
While many think the choice is simply one of two – window or aisle – it’s also important to think about which row you’re sitting in. By doing so, you can more likely secure a double seat all to yourself, or whisper it, maybe even a triple. Passengers tend to congregate around the toilets, making this area of the plane noisier and more likely to cause you disturbance when you’re trying to rest. And when checking in online, the back rows are far less preferred; plump for a seat in the plane’s nether regions and you might get lucky and get an actual lie down.
PACK YOUR SOCKS
With the harsh air-conditioning on planes, it can sometimes be difficult to stay warm during your flight, so it’s important to pack some comfy and thick socks in your hand-luggage. Having warm feet helps you to drift off faster, as well as helping avoid a restless sleep.
PUT IN SOME EAR PLUGS
With everything from screaming children, pilot announcements, coughing passengers and that distinct rumble of the plane engine, there are so many noises that can keep you from getting that all important shut eye. Ear plugs can help to muffle this and turn it into soothing ‘white noise’. Perfect!
TIME IT RIGHT
To avoid the much dreaded jet-lag during your holiday, it can help to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time as early in the journey as possible. Do this by working out the best time to sleep on the flight, in accordance with when your nighttime is due to fall at your destination. By beginning to shift your sleep schedule early on, you’ll feel more energised to get up and get going, even on that first day.