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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM (IST)

For happy dreaming on flight

Here are some tips from experts for getting some shuteye to ease you into a new time zone
For happy dreaming  on flight

Helen Coffey

there are two types of people in this world — those who can sleep on flights, and those who can’t. The former spring out of their seat upon arrival at their destination, fresh-faced, clear-eyed and ready to throw themselves into the ways of a new country and culture. The latter drag themselves sluggishly down the aisle, struggling to perform even the simplest of tasks such as using the passport machine at security. If you happen to be one of these unfortunate souls, the start of any long-haul trip can quickly unravel as, both sleep-deprived and jet lagged, you’re barely able to function for at least 72 hours. But fear not, there are ways and means of securing a bit more shuteye. 

Grab a row

Give yourself a fighting chance to sleep by choosing a middle seat when booking. Couples and families are unlikely to go either side of you. Pick one towards the middle or back of the plane, rather than at the more popular front end of the cabin. Should this fail, look around for empty rows. Ask a member of cabin crew if you can switch and bag yourself some extra leg room. Once you’re lying comfortably, make sure you put on your seat belt, so it’s visible over the blanket. There’s nothing worse than being woken up by a flight attendant during turbulence to check you’re belted up.

Stick to your routine

It might seem silly, but preparing for “bed” the way you would at home means you’re more psychologically ready for sleep. Changing into pyjamas, brushing your teeth and removing your make-up/washing your face can all get you in the right mindset. If you normally always read before bed, do it now too — signal to your brain that the “being awake” portion of the day is officially over.

Switch off

Overstimulation is the enemy of sleep. As much fun as it is to catch up on the films you missed or play a game on your phone, using devices just before bed means your brain is all lit up like a Christmas tree. Plan when you ideally want to hit the hay and half an hour before shut down the electronics — instead, read or meditate a bit.

Get the right sleeping mask

There are sleeping masks and there are sleeping masks. As fetching as a faux-satin number with fun patterns might be, this is a practical item with only one real purpose — to block out the light so you can drift off. Plump instead for a functional black mask, with a soft lining and raised edges to create a truly dark interior. 

Put in plugs

Just like a sleeping mask, the right ear plugs can be a game changer; for many people, it’s the constant noise of the engine that makes it so hard to sleep on planes. It’s worth trying out a few different kinds beforehand to see whether you prefer the mouldable wax or foam variety — everyone’s ears are different, after all.

Take your own pillow

If you have to sleep sitting up, those nerdy-looking horse shoe-shaped neck cushions are very helpful — a lot more comfortable than trying to fashion the flat-as-a-pancake pillow provided into something remotely sleepworthy.

Drink, and get driven

If you drink, having a glass of red wine, whisky, or whatever your chosen tipple may be in the hour before sleep can have a soporific effect. However, don’t overdo it — alcohol can feel like it affects you more at altitude. Plus having a hangover on a plane is far from ideal.

Scent yourself

Using hand cream or essential oils with sleep-inducing properties can help you relax. Go for scents like lavender, vetiver, chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot and sandalwood. Rub some on the back of your neck and dab a touch on your pulse points.

Drug up

Some legal, over-the-counter sleep medications like Nytol, Kalms and valerian root extract pills are a gentle way of nudging you off to the land of nod. You can pick up some melatonin from the pharmacy. The naturally occurring hormone in the body regulates night and day cycles and signals the body to prepare for sleep. It shouldn’t be overused.

No pressure

It’s easier said than done, but stressing about not being able to sleep is a sure-fire way of not being able to sleep. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself — instead just see it as a chance to rest your eyes for a bit. Get comfortable and relaxed, and remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world if you fail to get some shuteye. — The Independent 

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