‘Rose champagne.’ ‘Purple haze.’ These may sound like exotic cocktails, but they’re, in fact, two of the mood lighting settings Virgin Atlantic aircraft used to provide travelers with a healthier and more pleasant lighting system on aircrafts as well as boost the airline’s iconic branding. Well-intentioned, yes. But ill-advised. Read on to see why.
Smart lighting systems are the latest frontier in the quest to make airline travel more bearable and help passengers get a good night’s sleep. Lighting design companies and airlines are working together to dramatically rethink the colors, patterns, and intensity of how an aircraft is lit up during boarding, takeoff, when in flight and when landing.
A change in lighting is a low-impact, low-cost intervention with massive implications for the well-being of passengers. Every long-distance traveler knows how unbearable a sleepless night on an airplane can be. Passengers are cramped in small places, overstimulated, uncomfortable, and often wake up when lights are switched on during meal times.
The changes need to be more than just aesthetic though, that’s where Virgin got things wrong. A study by OSRAM concluded that ‘Compared to conventional lighting, Chrono biologically adapted LED lighting in the interior of airplanes means that long-distance passengers during flights are more relaxed and reach their destinations in a more activated state.’
But that’s going to take time to reach every major airline. In the meantime, quality sleep while in transit is still hard to come by. There’s no doubt that these changes are well-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean they are in line with what the body needs in order to sleep. As the non-profit passenger association, Apex Aero reported: “Many airlines have opted for LEDs to illuminate their aircraft Interiors, with blue being a popular choice for night-like sequences.” Blue light might help flight crews fight fatigue, but it definitely doesn't benefit passengers' circadian rhythms.
With some good advice, the right eyewear, and a bit of planning, you can learn to sleep better than ever as you travel through the friendly skies.
5 TIPS TO HELP YOU GET A GOOD INFLIGHT NIGHT’S SLEEP
MONITOR YOUR SCREEN TIME
It’s easy to get over-excited about all the free time stretching in front of you. Suddenly, that third season of iZombie seems like something you could finish in the next few hours. But that kind of behavior will inevitably catch up with you when you reach your destination. Limit the amount of time you spend on mobile devices and television monitors—or wear SafetyBlue Sleep Savior® Glasses while engaged in screen time.
BE A SENSIBLE DRESSER
Forgo making a big entrance and being the most glamorous person on the plane. Save the skinny jeans and elaborate jackets for your destination. Make sure you’re wearing something loose and comfy with a couple of layers that you can adjust depending on how warm or how cold you feel.
The air that you breathe at high altitudes actually comes from outside and lacks moisture, which leads to dehydration and a feeling of general fatigue. This can be counterbalanced by drinking a fair amount of water, both before take off and during a flight. A good idea is to bring your own water so you don’t have to continually rely on an air hostess.
The body heat of many people in a confined space means that the plane warms up quickly. That’s one of the reasons why the air inflow is kept quite cold and why you frequently get chilled on a plane. If you’re not warm enough, it’s really hard to get a good night’s sleep. Make sure you secure a blanket and pillow early on in the flight and wear lots of layers that you can adjust according to temperature.
If you can, secure a window seat for a long flight. This gives you something to lean on, and people won’t be climbing over you all night to get in and out of their seats. If you’re lucky, you won’t be seated too close to the on-board bathrooms as that’s a particularly busy zone during most of the flight.
BLOCK THE BAD LIGHT
Think about all the light sources you’ll encounter. The flashing lights of movie screens, reading lights going on and off, cabin lights, sunlight bursting in on an eastbound flight—all of it has the potential to not only disturb your precious slumber but to completely throw off your sleep cycle as well. One of the simplest solutions is to wear a pair of blue-green light blockers from SafetyBlue that protect your eyes and safeguards your circadian rhythms. The head strap option secures the glasses in place eliminating the need for glasses arms, enabling you to find a comfortable side position to sleep in.
KNOW YOUR RHYTHM
Depending on which way you are traveling, you should adjust your sleep cycle according to your circadian rhythm. That means knowing which parts of the flight are the best for you to sleep in. According to the Sleepdoctor, “traveling west is easier on sleep and circadian rhythms than traveling east. If you’re on a late flight headed east, plan to get your sleep in the early hours of your flight. You’ll be aligning yourself with the earlier evening hours of your destination. For westbound overnight flights, you’ll want to do the reverse. Delaying sleep until later in the flight can help you adjust your sleep cycle to your destination’s later time zone.”
Sleep glasses from SafetyBlue also come in handy when you reach your destination, helping you to shut out sleep-disturbing blue and green frequencies when in the airport, hotel lobbies and hotel rooms.
Implementing small interventions and eventually Chrono biologically adapted LED lighting on aircraft will continue to improve the in and off flight experience for travelers. But until that happens, use these simple strategies and simple eyewear solution to dramatically improve the quality of your sleep when in transit.