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You are guaranteed rest with these handy hacks.

| By Rachael Thompson | Wellness

Sleeping On A Plane Is Hard: Here's How To Make It Better

You are guaranteed rest with these handy hacks.

There's no denying how fabulous going on a holiday is. The excitement of travelling abroad is a blessing. What's not so fabulous, and one hurdle many of us dread before we land at our destination, is trying to sleep on the plane.

Getting good rest while aboard is not always easy. The sheer envy one can have by seeing people effortlessly nod off in the sky while you're stuck squirming around in your little seat trying to get comfortable is not ideal. But there are a few tips and tricks that are backed by science that will help increase your chances of getting some shut-eye when you so desperately need it.

Here are the handy hacks we’ll be trying on our next flight to give ourselves the best chance possible of getting some sleep.

1. An eye mask

It’s an obvious one – so obvious that some amenities kits on planes even include them – but if you want to sleep on a flight, you’re going to need an eye mask. Between the cabin lights, the toilet door opening, and your seatmate using their personal light to read or work, you’re going to need that eye mask to create darkness. Darkness is what creates melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep, and without it, it’s really difficult to drift off. Get that eye mask!

2. Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones

Also helpful are earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones – for the same reasons as above. In order to sleep well, you need a quiet, tranquil environment, which is just about the opposite of a flight, what with people getting up and down to go to the bathroom, watching movies, and cabin service happening all around you. Earplugs are the age-old way of creating a silent environment, but noise-cancelling headphones are even better: they help to drown out the noise of the plane itself and usher you into sleep. Bonus points if you can download a pink or white noise album so you can listen while trying to rest. They help to create a smooth, protective sound blanket for your ears so you aren’t woken up by noises around you. Pink noise varies its frequencies whereas white noise is one single sound, but both work well.

3. A neck pillow

We’ve fought it for many years because we don’t want to be that traveller toting around their curled-up neck pillow, but the fact of the matter is neck pillows provide the support your head and neck need in order to properly sleep. Without it, you’re more likely to have a hypnic jerk, which is the word for the twitching that happens right as you fall asleep; in this case, your head jerking up from nodding towards your chest. A pillow provides the support that will allow you to sleep soundly and safely.

4. No caffeine or alcohol

We know... it's a bummer. Both caffeine and alcohol impact sleep at the best of times, but on a plane, when you’re already dehydrated because of the air pressure in the cabin, and travelling to the other side of the world, it's a big no-no. No matter the time your flight takes off, try to avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks for the duration of the trip, which will hopefully help you sleep better in transit.

5. Workout before the flight

If you’re about to head off on a long-haul, you know you’ll be sitting down for hours at a time. Getting in a good workout before the flight might help to encourage sleep on the plane, as working out helps you maintain your circadian rhythm. If you have an early morning flight, this could be trickier, but try to get your steps up by walking around the airport before you board.

6. Drink lots of water

It’s always a fine balance to drink lots of water while also not drinking too much that you’re up and down to the bathroom for the whole flight, but it’s really important you stay hydrated on the plane for a good sleep. Water helps with temperature regulation and making sure you stay at the right temperature for sleep, so if you’re dehydrated you’re less likely to doze off. It's also worth having a throw in your carry-on that you can wrap around yourself if you do start to feel cold.

7. No electronics

What is true on land is true in the sky. Studies have shown the blue light that comes from our devices such as iPhones, iPads, and laptops interrupts our circadian rhythms and sends messages to the brain to stay awake. Try to use them as sparingly as possible on the flight leading up to your snooze time. Why not read a book or listen to a podcast with your eyes closed and eye mask on instead? Both are better ways to quiet your mind while waiting out a long-haul flight.

8. Take off your shoes

Good blood circulation is critical for a healthy life and is a huge part of what happens in our body when we sleep, but it can be more difficult to achieve on a plane when you’re not lying down in a bed like usual and you’re wearing more restrictive clothes than your regular pyjamas. One way to help is to remove your shoes and wear socks, either a normal pair or a compression pair purchased before your flight. This way, your feet and ankles won’t be constricted by shoes. Plus, there’s the added benefit of warmth to your feet: studies have shown those whose feet are warmed by socks are less likely to wake up during the night. But please, for the sake of your neighbours, make sure your socks and feet are clean!

9. Eat something light before the flight

Again, no matter the time of your flight, it’s better to eat something light and nutritious before you board, rather than the options given to you on the plane. These foods are likely to be high in salt, which can make you dehydrated and prevent sleep. Eating something healthy before you board is a great way to ensure you’re well set up for sleep. Think about snacks such as bananas – high in potassium which helps sleep – or a summer roll or salad that will be easy to digest and won’t interrupt your sleep cycle.

10. Change into something comfortable

It's generally a good idea to wear comfortable clothes when travelling on a plane. Air travel can be long and tiring, and you'll want to be comfortable throughout your journey. Wearing loose-fitting clothing can help prevent discomfort or chafing during the flight. Change into a sleepwear set to help you feel cosy and comfortable and regulate your temperature on the flight.

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