Follow these midnight travel tips to ensure you’re well-rested upon arrival
Red-eye flights have their advantages — cheaper fares, less traffic going to and from the airport, shorter lines at the counters, and smaller crowds at the baggage carousel. However, they can leave you feeling drained once you arrive at your destination. It’s important that you catch some sleep while in mid-air, so here are six ways you can get comfortable:
1. Check in early. We recommend pre-selecting your seat so you don’t end up sitting near the lavatory (unless you need it often), and get bothered by the queue to the loo. Pick a window seat so you can snooze in peace, or an aisle seat if you’re the sort who likes to get up every now and then.
2. Bring a neck pillow. Dr. Eric Bautista of the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital says that when we fall asleep while in an upright position, our head will loll forwards or sideways because it’s so heavy. “This causes a misalignment of our spine and strains the muscles of our neck, leading to neck and back pain when we wake up,” he says. U-shaped pillows maintain spinal alignment (and you’ll avoid leaning on your seat mate’s shoulder).
3. Use an eye mask. Even if the cabin lights are dimmed, the plane interior will never be totally dark. According to Dr. Jonalyn Ang, a sleep specialist at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, Manila, the light may disrupt our body’s circadian rhythm, or “body clock,” which tells us we should sleep at night (when it is dark) and wake up in the morning (when it is bright). Your brain might interpret cabin lights as daytime and resist your urge to sleep. She adds that melatonin, the hormone that maintains the body’s circadian rhythm, is secreted by a gland in the brain two hours before sleep, and will only do so if it’s dark. “If we don’t sleep and wake when we should, our hormones, blood pressure, heart rate, appetite, brain function, and mood got affected — all not good if you have a full day scheduled as soon as you land,” Dr. Ang points out.
4. Dress for comfort. Dr. Rainier Lutanco of Chinese General Hospital in Manila advises that wearing loose clothing made of breathable fabrics like linen may make it ‘easier for you to curl up, twist, contort, or stretch comfortably on your seat’.
5. Choose noise-canceling headphones. Drown out the drone of the plane engine, the chimes of the seat belt signs going on and off, and the cries of the baby seated five rows away. You don’t hear any of these in your bedroom, and that’s the environment that you want to mimic.
6. Drink something to help you sleep. Dr. Ang recommends chamomile or lavender teas for their relaxing effects. She adds that you may consider getting clearance from your doctor to take melatonin supplements.