How to sleep on a flight and beat jet lag
Follow these simple tips next time you take a long flight and set yourself up to arrived refreshed and ready to holiday!
- September 2018
If you’re on an overnight or long-haul flight, getting some sleep will help you hit the ground running, ready to make the most of your trip. Easier said than done, right? Here are our top tips to give you the best chance to catch some zeds on your next long flight. If you’re travelling with kids, make sure they observe these rules, too – especially number four!
1. Dress comfy
While it’s not a great look for anyone older than five years old to wear their PJs on the plane, definitely go for comfort rather than style. We're talking your favourite comfy loungewear – tracky dacks, t-shirt, warm jumper (you can always stash this in your carry-on if you don’t want to rock this look in public). Make sure you have warm socks, and dress in layers so you can adjust your temperature.
2. Pack some snooze gear
There are a few handy items you should pack in your carry-on to help you get some shuteye. First, an eye mask – being able to block out light is vital to being able to get good-quality sleep.
Similarly, you want to block out sound. Pack earplugs or noise-cancelling earbuds (headphones can get in the way when you’re trying to find the most comfortable position). Whether you use them to block out the noise or play some soothing, relaxing music, it should help send you off.
Some people swear by a neck pillow. Having your head cradled can provide that extra boost of comfort, especially if you’re not sitting by a window.
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3. Watch your posture
It’s time to start fighting over who gets the window seat, because that’s generally the best place to find a comfortable position to sleep in, with your head snuggled in against the wall (while we’re talking location, it’s also a good idea to choose your seats so you’re a way from noisy areas, like toilets and galleys).
Trying to sleep hunched forward over your tray table is the worst position – it puts a lot of pressure on the discs of your lower back.
4. Turn off your screens
While devices are really helpful in keeping in-flight boredom at bay, they’re not great when it comes creating a sleep-friendly environment. We’re not suggesting trying to do a long-haul flight without the aid of screens, but the key thing is to turn off your in-flight entertainment and devices at least 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.
The blue light produced by screens is thought to suppress melatonin, your body’s natural sleep hormone. Trying to get to sleep with an iPad flickering in front of you is like swimming upstream in a river of honey, and even if you succeed, the quality of your sleep will be poor.
5. Go easy on the food and drink
Generally it’s a good idea to lay off the booze if you want to get a good sleep. You might find that one drink will help send you off, but any more than that could be dehydrating and might tend to wake you up after a few hours.
You’ll find it hard to nod off if your stomach is rumbling, but try to choose something light and healthy to eat – avoid spicy and fatty foods. Make sure you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
6. Fool your brain
Routine can be a powerful thing. It might help you sleep if you prepare for ‘bed’ exactly the way that you would if you were getting ready to turn in at home. Brushing your teeth, changing into pyjamas, reading a little (print, not screen) before bed if that’s your normal habit – all these things can send the ‘it’s bedtime!’ signal to your brain and help you fall asleep.
Once you’ve set yourself up for your snooze, make sure you adjust your seatbelt so that it’s visible over your clothes or blanket, so the flight attendant doesn’t need to wake you up to fasten your seatbelt if there’s turbulence during the flight.