For most of us, quality in-flight sleep is a struggle. And when you’re travelling for work, stepping off the plane feeling like a sleep-deprived-zombie is to say the least, less than ideal. A plane seat may never feel like your own bed but there are some simple ways you can help your body get the best rest possible. We’ve asked the experts for their tips on how to get the best in-flight sleep.
Hydrate, before and during your flight
It may not come as a surprise that spending a long period of time confined in a reduced oxygen environment with low humidity seriously dehydrates you. But as Phizz’s Physiotherapist & Head of Phizz Sport, Yasmin Badiani explains you may not know just how much water you can lose on a plane trip. “In an average 10 hour flight, men can lose approximately two litres of water and women around 1.6 litres. This means that on a London to Sydney flight a passenger could lose up to 4 litres and 8% of their bodily water.”* So to avoid waking up with that awful feeling of dry mouth or a headache, think about what you drink before and on the flight. Say no to cocktails, coffee, tea and soft drinks, which can be dehydrating and have high levels of caffeine. Stick to good old H20.
Avoid dead legs, be smart with your position
Finding a comfortable sleeping position when you have to sit upright is never going to be easy. But there are some things to think about to help avoid pins and needles, and aches. When you cross your legs, you clamp down on one side, which can restrict blood flow. This is what causes the sensation of dead legs and can increase your chances of a blood clot. Karena Wu, P.T., the clinical director for ActiveCare Physical Therapy says “if you fall asleep that way, you’ll likely wake up at some point and immediately cross your legs the other way because you’re subconsciously trying to even out that twist.”** A better way to sit she suggests: “Keep your legs straight, with a slight bend to your knees. You want to avoid any blood pooling in the lower part of your body.”
We all know that exposure to daylight isn’t great if you’re trying to sleep. That’s why we have curtains and blinds. But the same holds true for the light produced by seatback TV screens, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Electronic screens signify a similar message to our brains as sunlight, explains Haley Byers, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specialises in sleep. “So when you’re looking at that right before bed, you’re suppressing melatonin release.”*** Get yourself an eye mask, and try to avoid electronics before trying to sleep—why not opt for a book instead.
Time travel to beat jet lag
As soon as you leave your departure point switch your phone and watch to the time of your destination and start acting as if you’re already in that time zone. For instance, if you get on the plane and it’s only midday in your arrival city – try to stay awake for a few more hours so your body clock adjusts. The sooner you can start adjusting to your new destination, the better off you’ll be once you actually arrive.