Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights

This May I am going to travel to Athens, Greece, although I am very excited to go, I am dreading the 10 hour flight to get there. To prevent boredom, dehydration, deep-vein thrombosis, sleep deprivation and more, I have researched some tips and techniques on how to stay healthy and sleep easy on long flights. Unfortunately, since it is a company trip I have to fly coach and the number one tip is to upgrade, if possible, to business or first class to get extra legroom, too fully recline, eat better meal and get the best entertainment money can buy. If you are fortunate enough to upgrade stop here, if not, I can offer the following suggestions.

[caption id="attachment_939" align="alignright" width="247" caption="How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long"][/caption]

Devise a plan to combat the boredom look up to see the type of jet you are traveling on. will show you not only where you will be seated but if you have movies provided at your seat. If so, make sure you bring some good noise cancelling headphones or bring cash to purchase the airlines. You can also bring your iPad or computer with pre-downloaded movies. Remember to make sure your electronics are fully charged for the trip. Nothing makes me madder than to run out of battery in the middle of a movie. Also, electronics, good as they may be, can only hold a charge for so long and you might need other forms of entertainment to get through the flight like magazines, newspapers or a book.

When it comes to what gear to bring to stay healthy and get some sleep you might want to consider your own pillow, eye mask and earplugs to drown out engine noise, crying children or pilot announcements. Why your own pillow and not the airlines? A CNN article stated that studies show that germs can travel very easy on planes when people are packed together like sardines. According to a New England Journal of medicine, in 1994, six people contracted the drug-resistant tuberculosis and in 2003, 22 people came down with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) from a single passenger who had SARS, but no symptoms.

It is best advised to sit toward the front of the plane as most planes provide better air circulation as people aren’t sitting so close together. ALAS another reason to get an upgrade. If you are concerned with bacteria due to a suppress immune system, refrain from drinking tea or coffee as these beverages are made from the airplanes water tank that isn’t always clean. When boiling water it usually kills the germs, but prepared coffee and tea aboard an airplane generally doesn’t get to the high temperature guaranteed to kill these germs. Bring some kind of sanitizer and use it especially in the planes public toilet. Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona, who is also known as Dr. Germ states that E. coli is usually always found in the airplanes restrooms. Not only should you wash your hand after using their restroom, you need to sanitize your hands and the door handle on the way out. Other areas that need sanitized or avoided are the escalators in the airport, an ATM machine, seats, pillows and blankets on planes are more germ-ridden than your laundry basket; that your tray table is probably dirtier than your own bathroom floor; and that the seatback pockets — well, you don't even want to know, apparently. Remember, it isn't "air quality" that is of concern when you are flying, or recycled air, or anything of the sort — it is your body's compromised ability to deal with normal bacteria and viruses that puts you in danger of getting sick after a flight. So bring some sanitizing wipes and/or a bottle of hand sanitizer to whip down your seat, tray and if you are lucky enough to have a TV, wipe that down too.

[caption id="attachment_940" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights-Bring Your Own Entertainment"][/caption]

Ok so far we have 1) make sure the plane provides entertainment, otherwise bring your own and 2) a list of the gear you need to stay healthy and get some sleep. Now you want to pack all this stuff up and not compromise your space as anything in front of you means less legroom. If at all possible try to keep your stuff in the compartment above your head and use it as needed. For books, magazines and newspapers use the now sanitized seatback pocket. Make sure you secure your valuables; credit cards, passport, wallet and cash as dishonest travelers maybe waiting for you to fall asleep to move in on your carry-ons. Consider keeping these items on your person (man) or deep inside your purse (woman) under your front seat or next to you. NOTE: If you don’t like the seat they assigned for you, try to reassign your seat at the gate. If traveling with a companion the best way to fly is in AB or FG (depending on the plane) seats that are window aisle seats only. Not only do you feel you have your own little secured space, you don’t have to worry about climbing over any one or having someone sit in the middle seat.

Sleeping on a plane is not always easy. I am amazed that some people can fall asleep easy before we even take off. I can sleep off and on and usually not for hours on end. If you are like me I usually have a routine when travelling more than five hours on a plane. I know as soon as we get past 10,000 miles the flight attendants start their beverage service. Then about 2 hours later serve dinner. I want to make sure I have enough water on this long trip so that I don’t get dehydrated and I want to pick a meal that might have foods that induce sleep, like turkey. You may also find online what type of meals that are provided for your particular flight. If there are no foods that induce sleep you might want to bring your own or a sleep aid supplement, like melatonin. TIP: if you are considering an herbal supplement or herbal blend you might want to try it out at home first to see if you can rely on them during your flight. See my article on List of Foods that Induce Sleep for more information. Remember that hydration is a concern on a long flight and it has been recommended by some doctors that drinking an electrolyte solution is better than water alone. If you are older or have medical problems it is important to maintain electrolyte balance as the combination of dehydration and stasis is really the issue with blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) the risk of developing DVT on flights less than four hours is relatively small but the chances increase as more flight time increases. NIH’s tips; walk, move, flex, stretch to encourage blood flow and wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol. If you are at risk for DVT, your physician may recommend compression socks during flight or taking a blood thinner before you fly. You may also consider hydrating very well the night before your trip as well as avoiding alcohol or diuretics such as coffee, soda or even chocolate, take a baby aspirin the night before and make sure you have an aisle seat so you can walk around whenever you can.

[caption id="attachment_942" align="alignright" width="381" caption="How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights-Snooze Foods"][/caption]

In the beginning of my article I recommended visiting the as they show where you will be sitting and if it is yellow or red seat according to their seating chart. Yellow seats have some drawbacks and the red seats are considered poor seats according to their standards. Remember if you don’t like your assigned seat to talk to the attendants at the gate for reassignment. There is nothing worse than sitting where you will be uncomfortable and being in coach you need to feel safe and satisfied about your surroundings for the long haul. So after about four to six hours of flight time has passed with the beverage and food delivery done for a period of time reducing flight attendant interruptions, I pick out a funny movie and hopefully the sleep inducing foods kick in so I can get some shut eye and be refreshed enough to tour Athens the next day. OPA!

The content provided in How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

GLG America Logo

No comments:

Post a Comment