Travel Hacks: How To Go To Sleep & Wake Up Using Natural Stimulants & Depressants

Getting much-needed sleep on the plane ranks high on the regular traveler’s wishlist.

Between the hum of the engines, creak of the trolleys, frequent audio announcements and crying babies (there’s always at least one), sleep becomes a precious commodity in the air – eclipsed only by oxygen and water at 40,000 miles above the earth.

The use of stimulants and depressants can help your body prepare for sleep – or alternatively, wake up in time for landing. Stimulants generally speed up the body's processes while depressants slow them down. Read on to discover how you can best make use of stimulants and depressants to catch the z’s your body desperately needs – and which ones to avoid.

Naughty Stimulant  - Caffeine

It’s all-too easy to take that warm cup o’ Joe the flight crew will inevitably offer, but keep in mind that drinking coffee will easily dehydrate your system. Temptation is strong to have a mid-air coffee, especially during domestic or short-haul flights, but your best bet is to drink herbal tea for that tummy-warming sensation.

Nice Stimulant – Half and Apple

Believe it or not, eating half an apple is actually more effective in keeping you awake than a cup of coffee. Some airlines regularly carry fruit on board, so check with your flight crew when embarking on the plane. Eating half an apple means you’ll also get the double whammy of absorbing important antioxidants, flavanoids and dietary fibre that coffee just can’t offer.

Naughty Depressant – Alcohol

Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking a few G&T’s or complimentary wines will help aid the sleeping process. Sorry guys, alcohol is a depressant AND a big time dehydrator that will only bite you when you reach your destination – or worse – in the toilet cubicle when the seatbelt signs are switched on. It’s not worth the risk going that one-drink too far in a pressurised cabin environment where the risk of missing your connecting flight is, er, sky high.

Nice Depressant - Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound that helps the body know when it is time to sleep and wake up. The level of melatonin in our bodies declines as we age, which explains why older people often sleep less. Available in capsule form from the vitamin section of your local chemist or drugstore, take a Melatonin supplement at the bedtime timezone of your target destination to help acclimatise your body clock and sleeping rhythms more easily.