Here’s Why You Should Never Sleep When Your Plane Takes Off or Lands

Couple asleep on a plane

It’s easy to fall asleep on a plane, but you should stay awake for taking off and landing. | iStock/Getty Images

There are certain things everybody knows you shouldn’t do on planes — things like taking your shoes off or eating really pungent food. Well, you can add sleeping to the list. Read on to find out why you should never sleep during take off and landing.

1. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep on planes

Even though you shouldn’t be asleep when your plane takes off or lands, so many people do it. Whether you take a sleeping pill to deal with flight nerves, or you’re just exhausted from all the stress that’s involved with getting to the airport and going through security, sleeping when you finally get to you seat sounds pretty appealing.

2. The cabin pressure makes you sleepy

Passenger looking through window in the airplane

The body gets less oxygen. | 1001nights/iStock/Getty Images

One thing that makes it difficult to stay awake during flights is the cabin pressure. According to Inverse, airlines are required to keep cabin pressure at the equivalent of 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation. “After 7,000 feet, the saturation of oxygen into hemoglobin in the blood drops. This is critical — it means the body takes up less oxygen with every breath. Less oxygen, of course, means the body’s performance will take a hit. If you’re not already acclimated to this type of environment, you’ll start to feel slower and more tired,” they explain.

3. Your plane is literally built for sleeping

flight attendant handing a pillow to a blanket covered passanger of jet

Those blankets and pillows are meant to be used. | OSchaumann/iStock/Getty Images

Another reason people are bound to get sleepy on planes? The ambiance. The lights are dim, alcohol is readily available, as are blankets and pillows, the white noise created by the engine … it’s all the perfect recipe for an in-flight nap. “A flight is already fitted with the prime ingredients for facilitating a nap,” says Inverse. “All it needs is an extra boost — in this case, a small decrease in oxygen intake, and a bit of force that helps you feel like you’re rocking away softly.”

4. Here’s why you shouldn’t sleep during takeoff or landing

girl closing ears in the airplane

The change in pressure can damage your ears. | Vsurkov/iStock/Getty Images

It’s important to stay awake during take off and landing. Why? Because it can seriously damage your ears, possibly permanently. This is due to the rapid change in air pressure as the plane takes off and lands. That feeling you get during take off and landing — the one where your ears feel clogged? That could lead to dizziness, ear infections, eardrum damage, and at worst, nosebleeds and hearing loss, according to Travel + Leisure.

5. What you can do

American Airlines airplane taking off at Dallas - Ft Worth (DFW) Airport in Texas.

It’s important to yawn and swallow to pop your ears. | Aneese/iStock/Getty Images

Here’s why you need to be awake. During take off and landing, it’s important to do things like yawning, swallowing frequently, drinking water, sucking on candy, and chewing gum to keep your Eustachian tubes open and clear during these intense changes in pressure. “You can also try blowing your nose while pinching it closed to reduce the pressure build-up,” advises Travel + Leisure.

6. How to stay awake

Listening to music might help you stay awake. | iStock/Getty Images

There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re awake for take off. Listen to some upbeat music through your headphones, read a comedic book or fascinating article, or snack on something you love to eat. As for being awake for landing, chances are, you’ll probably wake up with all the hustle and bustle that surrounds preparing for landing, but if you’re a heavy sleeper, try and sleep with your headphones in and set an alarm for your approximate landing time.

7. Feel free to sleep for the rest of the flight

Airplane passengers relax during flight

Go ahead and relax while you can. | CandyBoxImages/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be awake for the entire flight, just take off and landing. If you’re a nervous flyer and find the best cure is to sleep through the majority of the flight, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t want to be exhausted for your trip? Go ahead and take a nap. It’s important to stay awake during take off and landing to keep your Eustachian tubes healthy, but, other than that, feel free to enjoy the sleepy conditions the plane atmosphere provides.

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