"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

How can I improve sleep on long-haul flights?

For most of us, the prospect of a long-haul flight is exciting mixed with just a few nerves. We are somewhere different – possibly on holiday, possibly to go to friends or family. Even work may be more interesting once you're in a brand new location.

Of course, you need to arrive completely relaxed and able to go. But by its definition, a long-haul flight involves traveling for a very long time, often greater than 12 hours. If you're on a flight from New York to Singapore, it might be closer to 19 hours.

All the whilst you're confined to a seat that reclines but looks like it barely moves, while the seat in front feels ten times smaller than you.

So, what are you able to do to get a good rest?

Accept the situation.

The first tip for sleeping on this setting is to loosen up your expectations a bit.

Humans will not be exactly good at sleeping in an almost upright position. Unless you're lucky enough to fly at school with a flat seat, you're unlikely to walk out of a long-haul flight after a solid eight hours of sleep.

Colleagues and my research is shown Pilots – who get a cot to sleep on during their in-flight rest periods – sleep light and fragmented. While not the most effective quality sleep, you'll be able to rest assured. Our research also shows Pilots are excellent at their job during long-haul flights. this, Plus results From Many other lab-based studiestells us that even light sleep has some advantages.

So, even in the event you can't get your usual eight hours in-flight, the sleep you do get will provide help to feel and performance higher at your destination.

Also, we're not excellent at judging how much sleep we've had, especially if our sleep is light and broken. So chances are high you've been sleeping greater than you think that.

Unless you'll be able to lie down and stretch your body throughout the flight, you most likely won't get a solid eight hours of sleep.
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Time your sleep and drinks.

The timing of your flight, and alcohol and caffeine consumption will directly affect your ability to sleep on the plane.

Assuming you've adjusted to the flight's departure time zone, daytime flights will make sleeping on board very difficult, while night flights make sleeping easier.

All humans have a circadian (24-hour) timekeeping system, which programs us to sleep at night and wake throughout the day. Sleeping (or waking) against this biological timekeeping system presents significant challenges.

We have a natural drop in alertness within the mid-afternoon, making it a superb time to attempt to sleep on a daytime flight. On night flights it would be easier to sleep after the dinner service is over, otherwise you might be fighting the noise, light and movement of individuals around you.

As a stimulant, caffeine helps us stay alert. Even in the event you are an everyday coffee drinker and might go to sleep after drinking caffeine, your sleep might be lighter and You will be more easily awakened.

Alcohol, however, makes us feel sleepy, however it interferes with our brain's ability to undergo REM sleep (also often known as dreaming sleep). Although it's possible you'll go to sleep more easily after drinking alcohol, your sleep is more disturbed as your body metabolizes the alcohol. Tries to catch up. It is missed during REM sleep.

What about taking melatonin or other medications?

Some people find that taking a sleeping pill or melatonin will help on a plane. This is a really personal selection.

You should check together with your doctor before taking sleeping pills or melatonin, and only take what's prescribed for you. Many sleep medications Don't let normal sleep happen. And you'll be able to feel it Drowsiness and sleepiness after waking up.

Importantly, melatonin is the hormone our brain uses to inform us it's nighttime. Melatonin will help with sleep, but depending on when and the way much you're taking, it may also alter your circadian clock. This can further distance you from being aligned with the destination's time zone.

Taking melatonin in your biological afternoon and evening will shift your circadian timekeeping system to the east (or earlier) and taking it at the tip of your biological night and your biological morning will shift your circadian timekeeping system to the east (or earlier). The system will move west (or later). It gets complicated in a short time!

A woman with long hair on an airplane
When we sleep, our muscles naturally loosen up, making it difficult to support the top.

Prepare your clothes and accessories.

Be prepared so you'll be able to create the most effective sleeping conditions throughout the confines of an airplane seat.

Wear comfortable layers, so you'll be able to take things off in the event you get too hot or put things on when it's cool, and hang it on that blanket as an alternative of losing it under your seat.

Light and noise disrupt sleep, so pack eyeshades and earplugs (or a noise-cancelling headset) to dam them out. Practice with eyeshades and earplugs at home, as they might take some getting used to.

A standard and vital a part of the falling asleep process is leisure, including of our neck muscles. When sitting, which means that our heavy heads not have support, leading to the dreaded experience of head drops that the majority of us have experienced. Try supporting your head with a neck pillow or, if you've a window seat, against the plane wall. (Unless you already know the person in the following seat well, they're probably not a superb option for backing you up.)

Don't attempt to force it.

Finally, in the event you get up and struggle to get back to sleep, don't fight it.

Enjoy in-flight entertainment. This is certainly one of the few times when sleep scientists will let you know that it's okay to activate technology – watch a movie, binge watch a TV series, or in the event you prefer, hearken to music or read a superb book.

When you are feeling sleepy, you'll be able to try to return to sleep, but don't stress or worry about getting enough sleep. Our brains are great at sleeping – trust that your body will catch up when it may.