If you can’t sleep on the plane, follow these simple tips to doze off in mid-air.
There are few people as qualified as Elina Winnel to talk about drifting off. She’s the founder of My Sleep Coach and an international sleep expert who has developed a unique program to help the chronically sleep-deprived slumber. She explains how she makes sure she arrives at her destination bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
When planning her trip, Winnel tries to book herself onto a night-time flight so that she feels naturally tired and ready to sleep. She also recommends hydration – but drink lots of water before the flight rather than during, to avoid continually needing to get up to go to the bathroom.
“If the flight has several legs, I choose one long leg to sleep well rather than the short ones,” she says. Choose a seat that suits you – if you’re easily disturbed go for a window, but if you need the bathroom frequently or you need to stretch your limbs regularly for blood-circulation issues, go for an aisle.
“Wear something comfortable that mimics your sleeping conditions at home, whether that’s leggings or loose, baggy clothing,” says Winnel. She recommends bringing a pair of socks to keep your feet warm, and a small blanket both for warmth and to “create a cosy bed-type environment”.
It’s good to be not just sleepy but physically tired, too – Winnel recommends exercising during the day before your flight to wear your body out.
To ensure you’re not disturbed during the flight, pack your own food and ask the flight attendants not to wake you for meals. Caffeine and alcohol will definitely hinder sleep, so avoid them at all costs.
Pack a sleep kit consisting of an eye-mask, earplugs and a U-shaped pillow that you can wear backwards so your head doesn’t fall forward. “If you want to get really serious about it, use noise-cancelling headphones and play brainwave music,” says Winnel. “I also use an ancient martial arts trick if it gets difficult to sleep, looking up at a 45-degree angle with my eyes closed. It helps calm the mind.”