Getting decent sleep on a flight is not an easy feat. As if spending hours on an upright seat isn’t bad enough, you also have annoying onboard neighbor, flight turbulence or a wailing child to worry about. Sleep deprivation can be a serious problem for frequent flyers, especially businessmen who have to attend meetings in one city on another. Here are some expert tips to frequent flyers to avoid sleep deprivation.
- Pack Your Sleep Gear
Be sure to pack, all the sleeping gear you need to sleep comfortably on a flight. Items such as eye-mask, ear plugs, noise blocking headphones and your favorite neck pillow should be in your carry on. It’s also a good idea to bring along stuff that helps you settle down for sleep, maybe a light book or essential oil. Interior Designer Michael Smith keeps orange essential oil with him while travelling and sprays on his T-shirt to help him relax and prepare for sleep.
- Prepare Ahead
According to Dr. Charles Czeisler, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, the common mistake that most air travelers make is running around before their trip, getting them tired even before they set foot on the plane. As a result, they are easily sleep deprived during the flight. So it’s really important to plan and prepare beforehand on flight day. Pack your luggage, go through any files or presentations that you might have and try to finish all your chores earlier to avoid any last minute stress and work.
- Try to get Enough Sleep before Your Flight
Try to get enough sleep in the hours leading to the flight or better yet, take a nap the day before. Prioritize your sleep by cutting down any unnecessary social activities, so you can bank a few extra hours of quality sleep. That way if you are unable to catch some sleep on the plane you will still have plenty of sleep in reserve.
- Wear Comfortable Clothing
Whenever travelling, wear comfortable clothing in layers. The temperature is usually cooler on flights so keep a jacket or sweater with you. Try to wear shoes that you can easily take off during the flight to improve circulation but be sure to keep a pair of socks because if your feet feel cold you won’t be able to sleep comfortably.
- Secure Window Seats
Whenever possible, secure the window seats on air flights. However, if you happen to be in the middle or aisle, it’s better to tell people in your row that you want to sleep so they are careful in case they have to walk past you.
- Bring Your Own Sleep Friendly Snacks
You can pack sleep inducing foods for the flight. Good options are unsalted almonds and walnuts, cheese, cherries, bananas or some cold turkey, which can make you sleep like a baby on the flight. Keep the fruits and meat in a container with an ice pack for freshness. This way you will also be able to avoid any spicy or fatty airline food and of course tempting desserts that might rob you off precious sleep. Bringing along herbal tea in a flask is also a good idea, as they help you relax. If that’s too much of a hassle, bring a few herbal tea bags along and simply ask the attendant for a cup of hot water to make a cup when you feel like it. Arianna Huffington, sleep advocate and former head of Huffington Post, always has lavender and licorice herbal teas with her on the flight.
- Keep yourself Hydrated
Keep yourself hydrated on the flight and it’ll help you sleep easy. Though, obviously, using alcohol and coffee for this purpose isn’t a good idea because they steal sleep. Avoid any such drinks not only on the flight, but also a few hours before it.
- Avoid Screens
Avoid watching movies on the plane and shut off any electronic devices that means turn off your phones, tablets and even the airline screens if you want to get some sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.
- Disconnect From Your Surroundings
Set the scene for sleep by relaxing and disconnecting yourself from the surroundings. Wear your eye-mask and noise blocking ear plugs. You can put on soft music or read a book on poetry, whatever helps you to surrender to sleep.
- Schedule a Nap Time after Landing
No matter how well prepared you are to sleep on the flight; there will almost always be things that can ruin your sleep and are not under your control like flight delays or turbulence. So always allow room for a nap in your schedule to freshen up before you hit the tourist spots or go for your business meetings.
- Secure a Sleep Friendly Hotel Room
The best start to recovering from jet lag is by securing a sleep friendly hotel room. James Maas, a leading sleep expert suggests that you should request for an east-facing hotel room so that you can get maximum sunlight in the morning. This can help your body adapt to the new surroundings. It would also be a good idea to request for a room away from the elevators to reduce disturbance.
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on How Nature Influences Sleep. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.