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How to sleep on a flight

Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

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Nothing quite takes the edge off your vacation buzz than having to endure a long-haul flight. However much you’ve paid for your ticket, chances are that you’ll be uncomfortable, and sitting next to someone that you’d prefer not to.

While you can try and use the flight time productively by catching up on all the movies that you’re glad you didn’t pay to go to the cinema to see, ideally you’d be getting at least a couple of hours of sleep so that you can arrive at your destination ready for action.

To help get your vacation off on the right foot, Sealy UK’s sleep expert, Neil Robinson, provides his top tips for sleeping on a plane.

Avoid that pre-holiday tipple

While a nice glass of wine or a refreshing beer might be a tempting way to kick start the vacation, try to exercise some restraint. Alcohol can have a negative impact on our rapid eye movement — REM — sleep, which is often considered the most restorative stage of the sleep cycle. While you may fall asleep faster after a couple of drinks, you’ll spend less time in your REM phase of sleep — meaning you’re more likely to feel un-rested and drowsy.

Bring your eye mask

Planes are full of bright lights — from the overhead reading lights to the blue light emitted by the TV screens — which can have a negative impact on our slumber. When we witness a light form, it stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to the brain — this stops us from feeling tired, making it harder to drift off. Wearing an eye mask will help to block out these lights and help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Avoid technology

While it may be tempting to watch a film or read on your tablet during the flight, the blue light emitted from the screens impacts our levels of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. By avoiding technology for a minimum of 30 minutes before you’re planning to get some kip, you can help ensure a better quality sleep.

Pick your seat carefully

While many people just think ‘seat or aisle’ when choosing their seats, it’s also important to think about which row you’re sitting on. Passengers tend to congregate around the toilets, making this area of the plane noisier and more likely to cause you disturbance when you’re trying to rest.

Pack your socks

With the harsh air-conditioning on planes, it can sometimes be difficult to stay warm during your flight, so it’s important to pack some comfy and thick socks in your hand-luggage. Having warm feet helps you to drift off faster, as well as have a less restless sleep.

Put in some ear plugs

With everything from screaming children, pilot announcements, and coughing passengers, there are lots of noises that can keep you from getting that all important shut eye. Ear plugs can help to muffle this and turn it into soothing ‘white noise’.

Time it right

To try to avoid feeling jet-lagged during your vacation, it can help to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time by working out the best time to sleep on the flight. By beginning to shift your sleep schedule early on, you’ll feel more energised to get up and get going — even on that first day.

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Health

Sunday Surgery

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Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Are we living in a post-HIV world?
In recent years we’ve seen a seismic shift in the effectiveness of treatment for HIV, as well as the emergence of PrEP — medication that prevents you from acquiring HIV.

This combination of factors has contributed towards a dramatic change in the attitude of gay men towards HIV, health, and sex.

It’s been difficult for public health policy to keep up, but it’s also difficult for older gay men like me to get our heads around the changing landscape of sex.

Official reports indicate that AIDS has killed over 35 million people worldwide. It’s estimated that around the world there are currently over 37 million people living with HIV.

In June of 1981, when the beginnings of the HIV pandemic were first being identified, I was approaching my ninth birthday. Lucky I guess, too young to be impacted by the first devastating waves of the virus that killed so many young gay men.

As I was beginning to discover sex, the public health messages very strongly articulated that sex without a condom equalled death.

It’s a bit hard to describe how that constant fear of infection and death shapes your view and experience of sex. I guess I’ve got no way of knowing what things would have been like without that — I like to think that it might have been something like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

I survived. I was careful. I was lucky.

It wasn’t until I saw the 2003 documentary The Gift that I became aware of the fetishisation of HIV, and a growing movement of men who embraced the risk and health consequences of fucking without condoms, of letting guys cum in you, the thrill of raw, or ‘bareback’ sex between men. It was an uninhibited hedonism best captured by the porn of Paul Morris and Treasure Island Media.

It’s easy to judge and disapprove of risk-taking behaviour, but there was something incredibly compelling about this type of no-holds-barred sex — no fear, no care for consequences.

The improvements in medication and the emergence of PrEP have now made bareback sex the norm. Not only in porn — where it’s now highly unusual to see anyone using a condom — but also in everyday life.

Health professionals sensibly remind us that condoms are still worth wearing as they protect us from a whole range of sexually transmitted infections, not just HIV, but the reality is that for many men sex is better when you don’t have to wear a condom.

For me, it’s a bit of a mind-trip that testing positive for HIV is no longer a death-sentence, that you can have sex without a condom and not worry if one of you might have the virus. That you can have no-holds-barred sex, with no fear, and no care for consequences.

It’s fantastic that today’s young gay guys, who are just beginning to discover and explore sex, don’t have to worry about HIV. Obviously they need to learn about it, they need to have access to PrEP, and they need to understand the full gamut of sexual health, but it’s just part of life.

Let’s not forget our history, let’s not forget the people we’ve lost, but let’s be thankful that young guys today are growing up in a world that’s something a bit like San Francisco in the 70s, or a long, lust-filled summer on Fire Island.

We may now be living in a post-HIV world.

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