From sardine-packed spaces, constant noise, and crying babies to rocky turbulence, sleep in the sky is hard to come by. Unless you are in first class and have the power to sleep anywhere, the plane is not a comfortable place to sleep.
Studies often report that sleep loss or prolonged wakefulness leads to exhaustion and fatigue, leading to jet lag. So, if you aren’t a first-class traveller, the aforementioned reasons are simply out of your control. Therefore focus on what you can do to make your flight more comfortable.
Here's how to sleep on a plane comfortably. Follow down the tips for sleeping on a plane.
The environment’s temperature is one of the most important factors affecting human sleep. And according to a study report, maintaining a comfortable thermal sleep environment is important for sleep maintenance, daytime activities, and health status.
The cabins of the aeroplane are generally kept between 22°C and 24°C (or, roughly, between 71°F and 75°F). Temperatures fluctuate in different zones of the cabin and when a plane takes off, is in flight, and when it lands. So, try to dress in light and easily removable layers to prevent overheating and getting cold due to fluctuations.
Sure, blankets can keep you warm, but you may also want to kick off your shoes and wear bed socks while sleeping on an aeroplane. A study evaluated the effect of feet warming using bed socks on sleep quality and found that it improved sleep quality by accelerating sleep initiation and maintaining body relaxation while asleep.
Here's how to sleep on a plane comfortably: unplug from your phones, tablets, and mobile devices. Because when it comes to sleep in general, electronic devices can cause sleep loss.
Studies proposed that blue light emitted from these devices suppresses blood levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Suppression of melatonin can reduce the duration of REM sleep leading to sleep latency or sleep loss.
Another aid for sleeping on a plane is wearing an eye mask because natural or artificial light can delay your sleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that light has a profound suppressive effect on melatonin levels, the sleep-promoting hormone which could potentially impact sleep.
Instead of listening to music, you may want to consider pink noise. Unlike white noise, which covers the entire range of audible frequencies in equal intensity, pink noise covers all frequencies of the audible spectrum by reducing the difference between the background noise and loud, jarring sounds. A study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology reports that pink noise significantly reduces brain wave complexity and induces more stable sleep time, improving sleep quality.
Aeroplanes can be loud, and a simple way to drown out loud noises when sleeping on flight is by using noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. A study in the Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that aircraft noise caused sleep disturbances.
Flight sleeping with crossed legs can affect blood circulation. Crossing your leg makes it hard for blood to circulate to different body areas. It can lead to vein inflammation and potentially put you at greater risk for a blood clot. In extreme cases, blood clots could even contribute to a dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis.
So when sleeping on an aeroplane, keep your legs straight and bend your knees slightly. You can even use your luggage or other personal items as a footrest.
Sitting crossed legs isn't the only thing that can lead to a blood clot. Sitting in the same spot without changing your position can also lead to blood clotting. Recline the seat 40 degrees backward.
According to a study, reclining your seat at an angle of at least 40 degrees leads to healthier sleep than sitting upright at an angle of 20 degrees. Furthermore, resting your forearms on top of the armrests to support your upper body can alleviate back pressure, which often prevents sleep.
Regardless of place or occupation, sitting for too long can stress the body. And since aeroplane sleeping requires a lot of sitting, you'll need to look out for proper back support. Experts suggest that proper lumbar support can improve comfort while reducing back pain. So, to counterattack the discomfort or any back pain, you can try a rolled-up jacket, blanket, or small pillow across the lower seatback to support the natural S-curve of your spine.
One of the best things to take to sleep on a plane is a neck pillow. As Dr. Mayank Shukla— a board-certified pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist in New York City, said, our bodies aren't designed to sleep upright. The head could flop around the neck, leading to aches and pain with all that muscle strain.
According to the expert's observation, travel pillows can support the neck and head. It can alleviate some pain and discomfort when combating an upright sleeping position while travelling.
While alcohol can initially lull you into slumber, studies show that it can lead to more awakenings, worse sleep quality, and less deep sleep. In addition, alcohol causes your body to remove fluids from your blood through your renal system more quickly than other liquids. This can make you dehydrated and groggy, amplifying the dreaded jet lag. Caffeine is no different than alcohol. According to the findings, caffeine affects circadian rhythm, preventing you from getting much-needed shut-eye.
Lavenders are well-known for their calming effect. So if you are anxious and don't want to take sleeping pills, try whiffing some lavender instead. According to research, lavender helps you fall asleep easily with fewer sleep disruptions— exactly the kind of sleep you need on a plane.
Humidity in airplanes is usually low (less than 20%), which may cause skin dryness and discomfort to the eyes, mouth, and nose. To soothe the dryness, you can use lotions or a saline nasal spray, and instead of a contact lens, wear eyeglasses. And unless the humidity is low, it may not cause internal dehydration, so there is no need to drink more than usual.
Till you land safely, travelling stress can be a nagging pain. This can keep you from getting a proper shut-eye. And one of the best ways to sleep on an airplane without any nagging stress is by practising mindfulness. Evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation significantly improves sleep quality.
Although the face mask requirement on public transit was removed, it still offers protection against virus-carrying particles in the air. And since not all face masks are made the same, get one that is breathable and most comfortable to travel in with. A simple rule to finding the right face mask is it should completely cover the nose and mouth and should fit under the chin depending on the design.
Before jumping on the plane, here are a few things to do to ensure your comfort.
Book a seat based on your sleeping habits, for example, seats closer to the exit rows provide legroom, and window seats are good headrests.
However, window seats might not always be the best option. When it's the middle or the back of the aircraft, go for the middle seat.
Sleep strategically by gradually adjusting your schedule before you leave. Sleep experts say that it takes roughly 24 hours for our biological clocks to shift by one hour. Therefore, go to bed one hour later for several nights. This can help reduce jet lag.
Along with the sleep schedule, adjust your daily activities such as eating habits and exercising schedule. This will help maintain a healthy schedule, and when you are at the airport, try to follow the same sleep routine, such as brushing your teeth, reading a book, and wearing lounge pants, just like getting ready for bed.
Snoring occurs when air can't flow easily through the mouth or nose, and the tissues along our airways vibrate as we inhale or exhale. Among the causes of snoring, alcohol is one. As mentioned before, alcohol reduces stress, but it also increases the probability of snoring more.
Although there are many causes, fortunate for you, it is avoidable. Here's how to sleep on an airplane without snoring.
Keeping Hydrated is the key. This will keep the mucus from forming in your throat and amplify your snores.
It's no secret that travellers use medication to help them sleep when travelling. However, while sleep aids offer a sedating effect, they can cause side effects. The most common include constipation or diarrhoea, dryness in the mouth, headaches, muscle weakness, and digestive problems, including gas, heartburn, and nausea.
However, if you must, try a safer option, such as melatonin. A study reviewed that a dosage between 0.5 and 5 milligrams can be effective. Furthermore, melatonin effectively prevents or reduces jet lag and should be taken about five hours before a flight. If you want a safer option for sleeping aids, try using a natural sleep aid like lavender.
Although the plane is not a comfortable place to sleep, it is not impossible to do so. Just incorporate the science-backed tips we shared above. And though people, including yourself, have their favourite method of getting some shut-eye onboard, make sure they are safe and well-thought. And before administering any kind of sleep aid, consult your healthcare provider first.