With the summer months drawing to a close, many of us will be looking to jet off for some winter sun. But if your flight is long-haul, or overnight (or both!) – fear not. Neil Robinson, Sealy UK’s resident sleep expert is here to give his tips on how to make sure you get your forty winks, even on a plane, so you’re ready to make the most of your holiday.
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, try to exercise some restraint. Alcohol can have a negative impact on our rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is often considered the most restorative stage 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.
Bring your eye mask
Planes are full of bright lights – from the overhead reading lights to the blue light emitted by the TV screens – which can have a negative impact on our slumber. When we witness a light form, it stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to the brain this stops us from feeling tired, making it harder to drift off. Wearing an eye mask will help to block out these lights and help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
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. By avoiding technology for a minimum of 30 minutes before you’re planning to get some kip, you can help ensure a better quality sleep.
Pick your seat carefully
While many people just think ‘seat or aisle’ when choosing their seats, it’s also important to think about which row you’re sitting on. 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.
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 have a less restless sleep.
Put in some ear plugs
With everything from screaming children, pilot announcements and coughing passengers, there are lots of noises that can keep you from getting that all important shut eye. Earplugs can help to muffle this and turn it into soothing ‘white noise’.
Time it right
To try to avoid feeling jet-lagged during your holiday, it can help to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time by working out the best time to sleep on the flight. By beginning to shift your sleep schedule early on, you’ll feel more energised to get up and getting going even on that first day.