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How to sleep first class in economy ...

How to sleep first class in economy ...

By Charmaine Young

When travelling abroad for work, ask any business professional and they will tell you that the worst part of the journey is the long uncomfortable flight.

Unless you are fortunate enough to get a seat that reclines all the way back so that you can lie down, you very rarely get to rest properly during the trip.

Charmaine webA little rest on a flight can make a huge difference.

This not only makes the trip rather exhausting, but a little stressful, too. So, what is the solution to this problem? Some swear by sleeping pills, and may even combine a little alcohol with them. What many do not realise is that combining alcohol with sleeping pills is highly dangerous. The alcohol adds to the sedating effects of the sleeping pills and the combination of the two can cause you to stop breathing and ultimately die.

So, in the spirit of promoting safety first, here are some tips to try to improve your in-flight comfort without hazardous side effects.


Plane chairs are really not designed for comfort and actually place quite a bit of strain on one’s lower back during a flight. The key is to try and create a wedge between your lower back and the seat, so that it supports your back better, especially when you recline your seat. Try to get at least two to three pillows and place them in the small of your back, just above your hip bones. This will remove the pressure on the lower back when you recline your seat, as you attempt to sleep in an upright position.


Lavender oil is best known for its floral, fresh, and calming scent, which is why it is most popularly found in most soaps, creams, and fragrances. Lavender oil not only has a destressing and calming effect, but is also known to work as a sedative and antidepressant. Rubbing some lavender oil on your wrist, temples, or feet during a flight can help to make you sleep easier during the flight. Sprinkling a few drops on your neck pillow not only makes it smell nice, but helps to induce natural sleep.


A few days before your flight, try to boost your melatonin levels naturally. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body, which helps to normalise circadian rhythms. This means that melatonin helps to control your awake and sleep cycle times during the day and evening. Some people try to use prescription melatonin for the duration of the flights, but it is advisable to try to boost your melatonin levels naturally prior to take off.

Eating foods such as pineapple, bananas, and oranges can boost melatonin levels from approximately 100% to 200%. 

Meditating for about 10–15 minutes a day not only makes you feel more relaxed and energised, but it can boost melatonin levels, which helps to make you feel euphoric and happy.

Another way of boosting melatonin levels is to avoid all blue light and radioactive waves for at least a few days before you travel. This means removing your cell phone, cordless phones, or any electrical devices like the TV or laptops from your bedroom while you sleep. 

Also try to use natural light, such as candles or sunlight, instead of florescent or incandescent light. Your brain perceives artificial or blue light as ‘daytime’ and the time to be awake. This information does not match up with your usual circadian rhythm and can result in sleeping difficulties.

Arriving for your first business meeting looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed is tough after a long-haul flight, but getting some rest on the flight can make a huge difference.

Click below to read the February 2018 issue of RACA Journal



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