by Shawn L Fitzpatrick
Do you have trouble relaxing and getting forty winks on a plane? To commemorate March’s World Sleep Day – we asked a team of sleep experts and frequent flyers to share their hacks for getting some rest at 35,000 feet.
Master the Art of Relaxation at home
One reason for sleep difficulty is an active mind. Start the training at home by adding a relaxation exercise to your bedtime routine. It doesn’t have to be long – even two to four minutes of seated relaxation techniques can help quiet your mind. Try an app like Calm or Headspace if you need guidance.
While many consider having a ‘nightcap’, it’s more beneficial to avoid alcohol altogether. Instead, sip Valerian root tea, which research suggests can help certain sleep disorders. Or try brewing a cup of lettuce – it contains lactucarium, known for its sedative and analgesic properties. Brew two leaves of romaine lettuce for 20 minutes in 220ml of water, and strain.
The Right Light
Watching films and playing games on tablets or smartphones not only stimulates the brain, but the blue light emitted prevents the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Try downloading an app such as f.lux, which filters blue light and helps you sleep better.
Pick your Side
When checking in before your flight, think of the plane as your bed and consider changing your seat to the same side on which you sleep. By mirroring your natural sleeping habits, you’ll be less disorientated and likely to get to sleep more quickly. If you sleep on the left side of the bed at home, make sure you pick a seat on the left side of the cabin. @wbbrjp
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 10-20 minutes on take-off and landing. When your eyes are closed, visualise roots coming out from your feet, a grounding technique to help minimise the destabilising effect of flying. Use in-flight meditations to help you rest and balance your energy.
Earplugs may help drown out noise, but consider downloading a white-noise app. There are a number available on iOS and Android. The low-frequency, monotonous hum of an electric fan or breaking waves, for example, can help you switch off and sleep better.