From white noise apps to brewing lettuce in hot water, our experts’ tips will help you sleep better on your next flight. Photo: Getty Images

Faster Thinking

Boiled lettuce in the land of dreams

The inflight bed has come a long way since British Airways introduced the first fully flatbeds in 1995. But drifting off can still be elusive for even the most frequent flyers. So we asked four people in the sleep business for their tips

Practice at home
Says who? Dr Rebecca Robbins, sleep concierge at The Benjamin New York
One reason for sleep difficulty is an active mind. Start the training at home by adding a relaxation exercise to your bedtime routine. It doesn’t have to be long ­– even two to four minutes of seated relaxation techniques can help quiet your mind. Try an app like Calm or Headspace if you need guidance.

Inset 1

Sweet dreams: swap your post-dinner wine for a cup of Valerian root tea

Choose your beverage wisely
Says who? Richard Jolie, business development manager at
While many consider having a nightcap, it’s more beneficial to avoid alcohol altogether. Instead, sip Valerian root tea, which research suggests can help certain sleep disorders. Or try brewing a cup of lettuce – it contains lactucarium, known for its sedative and analgesic properties. Brew two leaves of romaine lettuce for 20 minutes in 220ml of water, and strain.

Stay away from the light
Says who?
David Gibson, sleep expert at 
Watching films and playing games on tablets or smartphones not only stimulates the brain, but the blue light emitted prevents the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Try downloading an app such as f.lux, which filters blue light and helps you sleep better.

Inset 2

Ground yourself in the air
Says who? Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert at Silent Night
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 10-20 minutes on take-off and landing. When your eyes are closed, visualise roots coming out from your feet, a grounding technique to help minimise the destabilising effect of flying. Use inflight meditations to help you rest and balance your energy.

Embrace noise
Says who?
Richard Jolie
Earplugs may help drown out noise, but consider downloading a white-noise app. There are a number available on iOS and Android. The low-frequency, monotonous hum of an electric fan or breaking waves, for example, can help you switch off and sleep better.

Beat jet lag with British Airways’ jet lag calculator. Developed in conjunction with Dr Chris Idzikowski, it will advise you on the best things to do to minimise jet lag, based on answers to a few simple questions about your flight.