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- Richard Moss
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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on a Long Haul Flight
Getting a great sleep on a long-haul fight can be difficult with so many external factors that can affect your environment. Noise, space, comfort-ability, and your own physical state can all determine how much shut eye you’re able to put away before you reach your destination. The good news is there is a lot you can control to put you in the best position to feel rested on your arrival.
Here are tips for every step of the way:
Wear loose clothing made of natural fibres that emulates what you might wear to sleep at home (without the actual pyjamas!). Make sure you bring warm socks as well because cold feet will surely keep you awake!
Unless you are very tall and prefer to stretch out in the aisle, always choose the window seat for Economy, and depending on the configuration, some Business Class flights. You will be in control of the window cover to block light, and have a built in space to lean against without disturbing others.
Any kind of stimulant can affect your internal body clock, so avoid coffee, tea or energy drinks that will keep you awake. Alcohol will promote sleep for a short amount of time, but won’t help you sleep soundly. You’ll likely wake up in a couple of hours with a headache and feeling very thirsty, so do without altogether for the best sleep possible.
If you’re used to taking sleep medicine and know how it affects you, definitely utilise it on the flight. If you’ve never taken a sleeping pill, it’s better to stick to melatonin – a natural hormone that regulates circadian rhythm – than risk unwanted side effects. Antihistamines and over the counter sleep aids are also typically longer acting and may leave you feeling groggy, so avoid those too.
You’ll at the very least have access to a pillow, blanket and eyemask on most flights, so always be sure to request them for maximum comfort. Business and First Class will have even more options (pyjamas, slippers, a lie-flat bed!) so be sure to take advantage of what you can. Bring your headphones to cancel noise or use the free noise cancelling headphones on board for more tranquillity.
Set your watch to your new time zone before you land, and plan to sleep so that you wake up in the morning of wherever you are heading. The faster you can adapt to your new destination and avoid jet lag, the better.
Set a watch or cell phone time to wake you well before you land. This will give you time to go to the restroom, gather your belonging and refresh yourself before you disembark. This would be the time for that coffee or tea, if possible!
Don’t sleep during the daytime at your new destination, you will feel the effects of jet lag much longer and much worse than if you stick it out. Experts say you can shift your circadian rhythm by an hour or two each day, so don’t worry if you still feel groggy at times for a few days post flight.