Eleanor Barker answers your travel questions.
I've been having trouble sleeping lately and am dreading my next long-haul flight. What might help?
When you're having issues sleeping, revisiting sleep hygiene best practice is a good idea. With that said, even in the most luxurious conditions, flights can be a punishing place to drift off.
For the best chance of sleeping soundly in the skies avoid caffeine, big meals, alcohol and nicotine before your flight. Get a little exercise before the flight, although raising your body temperature just before bed is a no go. According to former insomniacs the best advice is to avoid screens for an hour before sleep and instead drift off to one of the following podcast recommendations.
The surprise solution to poor sleep? Boring podcasts.
Created in 2013, Sleep with Me podcast comes highly recommended. Creator and host Drew Ackerman cured his childhood insomnia with late-night comedy radio, which in turn inspired Sleep with Me.
Baby sleeping apps are designed to be mild and repetitive, training your mind to become sleepy when you hear the same melody (Pavlovian conditioning). Not just for babies.
Stuff You Should Know is not presented as a sleep podcast but hosts Josh and Chuck know their banter is oddly hypnotic — it's a source of some amusement for them.
If you hate the feel of headphones in your ears Sleepphones may be a worthy investment. Alternatively, noise cancelling headphones may be worth looking into.
The sleep "aids" that aren't so helpful
Auckland hotel named 'Best New Hotel' at prestigious awards
Could your photo win the Smithsonian's annual contest?
Cabin crew's creative response to 'no window' complaint
Alcohol makes you fall asleep, but it makes your sleep awful. Avoid. Another popular choice, melatonin, is not actually recommended for insomnia at all. To ease jet lag, try taking 0.5mg of melatonin two hours before your bedtime at your destination, starting a few days before your trip. Talk to your doctor, as melatonin can make sleep problems worse.
A new approach?
Sleep physicians often turn to cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic, long-term insomnia. This is a type of therapy designed to help patients make behavioral changes that affect the way they engage with sleep. Studies have shown that this is much more effective than medications and has a longer-lasting effect. There are practitioners throughout New Zealand if you're interested in looking into this.