Falling Asleep On A Plane: Expert Reveals The Tips And Tricks


14/06/2016 1:59 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Sleep. It's possible.

Unless you're Richard Branson, have a fear of heights or screaming kids, the novelty of a long-haul flight rarely gets old.

Countless, uninterrupted movies at your disposal, the opportunity to finally put a dent in your Amazon wishlist, the anticipation of your impending holiday, just generally being unavailable for calls and that's even before we get to the mini bar situation.

Of course, there are a few mood-ruiners that come with flying including nosy (and noisy) neighbours, the food and poor sleep.

The latter being something many worry deeply about.

"There is a combination of factors at play that will affect your sleep on a plane, though it's important people remember it is one day of your life," Dr Delwyn Bartlett, associate professor of sleep medicine from Sydney University and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research told The Huffington Post Australia.

In short, any sleep on a plane is a bonus and if you happen to be one of those individuals who can't, look at it as an opportunity to do some work or time to catch up on movies that you wouldn't normally have time to watch.

"The direction you're flying in also plays a role, whether you're flying east or west. Flying east is always more difficult to adapt to as you are expecting somebody to fall asleep earlier than they are used to. Whereas if you're flying west, you're delaying, you're going into the darkness and we can always stay up for a party," Bartlett said.

Plus, flying east will also give you more jet lag symptoms than flying west.

Ahead, 10 tips to give you the best chance of getting some shut-eye on a flight.

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1. "If you're flying east you want to get up as early as possible and progressively earlier for at least five days before the onset of your flight. This is because you want early morning light."

2. "It's always useful to do some exercise before you get on the plane. And also, keep your watch set on the time zone that you've left."

3. "When flying east, three milligrams of Melatonin can be quite useful between about 4 and 7pm on the timezone that you're leaving, though Melatonin doesn't tend to work flying west. This is because Melatonin generally advances sleep onset and you need to be delaying sleep onset as you are flying west."

4. "Use caffeine when you get to the new timezone and definitely reduce it on board the plane, particularly if you are boarding a flight in the afternoon."

5. "Also, balance that with getting up and walking around and stretching to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT)."

6. "Obvious, but important, drink plenty of water."

7. "Don't attempt sleep until 8pm or 9pm on the timezone that you've left."

8. "Avoid lots of cheese right before sleep as it can wake you up later."

9. "A small amount of carbohydrates can help sleep onset, but only small amounts."

10. "Remember alcohol does disturb your sleep, but if you're on board a plane and have a drink as a means of relaxing or going to sleep, it's fine, though any more than that it will tend to wake you up, fragment your sleep and dehydrate you more. If you are particularly sensitive to alcohol, stay away from it."

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