Sleep—we crave it and we need it, but we never seem to get enough of it. A new Consumer Reports survey of 4023 adults found that 27% of Americans suffer from insomnia while 68%—the equivalent of 164 million people—struggle with sleep at least once a week. These are sobering statistics, which is why we’re dedicating the next few days to this ever-elusive, never-can-have-enough part of our lives. Welcome to Byrdie’s first-ever Sleep Week, wherein you can expect detailed accounts of our own editors’ sleep trials and tribulations, the latest products to help you nod off, and all the new relevant research. Suffice to say, we’re obsessed with getting more shut-eye (the quality kind, too), and hopefully our obsession will ensure you wake up more mornings feeling well rested and less like you want to hurl your alarm clock across the room. Read (and rest) up!
I’ve never been on of those people who can instantly fall asleep on a plane. On every trip, I lie awake with quiet disdain for everyone soundly snoozing around me. I’ve tried everything—homeopathic supplements, staying up all night ahead of the flight, and even drinking a few cocktails while on board. None of it has worked. So in the hopes of getting some shut-eye on my next scheduled red-eye (one month and counting—I’m coming for you, Paris), I spoke with Dirty Lemon’s in-house naturopath, Laurie Brodsky, ND, for her best tips.
Below, she details everything necessary for a good night’s sleep en route to your next travel destination.
“En route to the airport, sip on a bottle of Dirty Lemon’s Sleep ($65) in preparation for your flight,” suggests Brodsky. “This multifaceted approach can kick-start ‘relaxation’ mode as your body begins to unwind, well before you get on the plane. The ingredients won’t knock you out like some of the other harsh formulas out there. The herbal ingredients in [the drink] work synergistically to target all of your senses (along with your digestion!) as they provide an overwhelming sense of calm in the body, and also subtly relieve tension, anxiety, and stress. Magnesium glycinate gently relaxes your mind and muscles, and feeds hundreds of critical pathways throughout the body, yielding a calming effect—without the laxative effect. The Bulgarian rose water plays to your highest senses and calms via aromatherapy, even before you take your first sip.”
“Eye masks are sometimes overlooked but can easily help your brain release the relaxation hormone, melatonin, from your pineal gland—but only when the scenario is dark enough,” explains Brodsky. “Our body has its own internal biological clock and circadian rhythm that controls the release of melatonin (among a whole slew of others), and when we try to disrupt its usual pattern, it can throw the system off, yielding jet lag.”
“It is so easy nowadays to connect to WiFi, watch a movie, or get busy with work, but all of that can wait until you awake from your slumber,” says Brodsky. “Electric and magnetic fields are everywhere, and they trick us into thinking it is still daytime (like the emission of blue light), and this can disrupt melatonin production from the pineal gland. So shut it all off whenever you get a chance, and take a mini technology detox.”
“Whether you prefer the sound of silence to rest, music, or even a gentle meditation, pop in your most comfortable set of earphones and tune in (or tune out),” recommends Brodsky.
“Some may find this obvious, but don’t indulge in a cup or two of coffee or caffeinated tea the morning of a long flight,” notes Brodsky. “Instead, sip on a greens juice or other hydrating choices to target and mop up free radical damage and inflammation from airplane and airport exposure to X-rays and other radiation.”
“Sublingual melatonin spray is a great tool to keep on hand for use on your way to the airport due to its sleep-promoting effects,” explains Brodsky. “It can take a few hours to fully kick in (typically your brain starts secreting melatonin around 9 to 10 p.m.), and it won’t make you fall right asleep, but rather it induces a gentle calm within your system. Just a little spray goes a long way (about 3 milligrams or less), and it can also ease jet lag once you arrive at your final destination.”
“Wear comfortable clothes in layers, and pack a pillow! No one likes to sleep in tight pants or to wake up with a kink in their neck,” says Brodsky. “A simple neck pillow can prop your body so you’re as comfortable as possible—which will allow for ultimate relaxation. Layering can help regulate your own internal body temperature, as planes never seem to have reliable climate zones throughout the cabins.”
What’s your best trick for falling asleep on a plane? Let us know in the comments below!