The real reason you can’t sleep before a flight – and how to get some shut-eye
TRAVELLING can be a really stressful experience for any number of reasons.
But our bodies often don’t help us by failing to give us the rest we need to deal with travel the night before a journey.
This is for a number of reasons, one of which unfortunately is the anticipation of stress.
That expectation can spark a vicious cycle, which results in a bad night’s sleep for people prior to a trip.
Sara Nowakowski is a licensed psychologist and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
She explained how travel can make us feel anxious before we’ve even left the house.
She told the Washington Post: “Travel causes a lot of people to have poor sleep. It can bring on stress to even the most seasoned traveller.”
Karin Johnson, director of the Baystate Regional Sleep Medicine Programme in western Massachusetts explained why.
She said: “When our body knows something is coming, our stress hormones respond. These arousal systems are going to try to prepare us for that 5:30am flight.”
While the release of those hormones is well-intentioned, it can often end up having the opposite of the desired effect on our bodies.
Patrick Bigaouette, a psychiatrist with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Minnesota revealed why.
She said: “These maladaptive thought patterns often cause anxiety or stress to spiral out of control and make it difficult to turn off the brain at the end of the day to fall asleep.”
There are ways to increase your chances of getting some shuteye on a flight, however.
Martin Seeley, the CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay knows a thing or two about getting to sleep, even on planes.
He revealed his best tips on how to doze off at 35,000 feet.
They include getting to the airport early to get a half-hour pre-flight walk in to increase feelings of tiredness.
Martin recommends walking through duty-free, while avoiding sitting down at boarding gates can also help.
He also said that picking certain seats will increase chances of drifting off during the journey.
Firstly, you should avoid sitting near the toilets as that tends to be the busiest area on the plane.
Instead, you should pick a seat in the same row as the wing.
Not only is this likely to be the quietest area but as the wing is usually where the emergency exit is based, you could also have more leg room.
Meanwhile, this is how you can avoid getting jet-lagged when flying.
And this list explains the best food and drink to help adapting to time changes.