Sleeping…on a jet plane.

“Adventure is worthwhile.” — Aesop

I travel a lot, both on behalf of Distributed and our clients, and when I can find the time to take a vacation, for fun. Over the years I’ve managed to optimise my in-flight sleeping experience as much as possible so that I arrive rested and ready to work, or if I’m on vacation, arrive rested and ready to rest! Here’s my tips for getting the best quality rest possible while flying.

Book the non-stop flight
Where possible, and if you can afford it, book the non-stop flight. When trying to optimise your travel time to include as much rest as possible, do just that, give yourself the maximum possible amount of time to sleep.

Fly through the night
Where possible, book a flight that arrives in the morning at your destination, even if that means it’s not ‘night time’, at your departure airport, arriving in the morning gives you a better chance of adjusting your circadian rhythm t your new time zone.

Get a window seat
This let’s you lean against the wall of the aircraft and ensures that you won’t be bothered by rumbling drinks carts or another passenger going to the bathroom.

Don’t drink Alcohol
Sure, a drink before going to bed will probably help you get to sleep faster due to alcohol’s sedative effects. The quality of your sleep however will be greatly diminished as alcohol reduces the time spent in deep restorative sleep.

Dress for comfort
Comfortable layers are your friend, wear clothes that are easy to remove (or put back on) so that you can adjust your temperature on the flight, this will ensure that your sleep isn’t disturbed and that you’re able to adjust your sleeping position without hinderance.

Have a light meal
Eating within two hours of sleeping has been proven to lead to more disturbed sleeping patterns, avoid it if you can, and avoid spicy foods or anything high in dairy content as both have shown to reduce the quality of sleep in most test cases.

Bring props
Nobody likes carrying extra stuff with them to the airport, but if you don’t mind an extra few grams of hand luggage, a neck pillow (wear it backwards) and earplugs are surprisingly effective sleep aids when flying.

And lastly…

Try not to think about sleeping
I know it seems counterintuitive, but reading yourself into sleep or listening to an audiobook allows your mind to detach from focusing on the necessity of sleep and allows you to fall into a more natural sleep.

I know none of these are revolutionary, but hopefully they’ll help a few of you intrepid travellers out there.

If you have any travel tips of your own that would be helpful please tweet me @callumadamson


The Unthinkable: Who survives when disaster strikes — by Amanda Ripley

Survival in terrible situations has a lot less to do with packing a ‘go bag’, and a lot more to do with how you prepare yourself psychologically for them. This is a fantastic book that explains why we react the way we do in highly stressful situations and how you can better prepare yourself for them.

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Callum Adamson

Distributed| Wits End

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