This Psychologist's Hack for Falling Asleep Quickly on Planes Is so Simple

It may just work.

<p>Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steve Smith/Getty Images</p>

Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steve Smith/Getty Images

Getting a comfortable night's sleep on a plane is, well, a dream for many. However, those overnight rides include more tossing and turning than anything else (and if you are one of the lucky few who can snooze in the middle seat, good for you).

But there may be one way to help you catch a few ZZZs, and it's as easy as crossing the "alpha bridge."

"Do you want to know a skill that will help you fall asleep on an airplane, or pretty much anywhere else? It's called 'going over the alpha bridge.' It's very simple," Erica Terblanche, a psychologist and mental well-being educator, shared in a recent Instagram post.

According to Terblanche, it takes just four "simple" steps to fall asleep. Step one begins by lying or sitting comfortably (we know this is tough on a plane, but give it a try). Then, close your eyes, and count to 30.

Step two, "Open your eyes on a little sliver, like a little half-moon, and count to five," Terblanche said.

Step three is to "close your eyes again, and count to 30." And lastly, step four, is to "open your eyes again to a little half-moon sliver, count to five, and then close your eyes again and just watch your breathing go in through your nose and out through your nose."

Most people, Terblanche noted, "fall asleep in the first cycle."

But, why, exactly, is it so hard for some of us to fall asleep on planes? According to a 2020 qualitative analysis, Determining the Predictors for Ease of Sleep While on Aircraft, published in the Journal of Air Transport Management, it's all the things you'd predict, and more.

"Unfortunately, it is likely not as easy for individuals to sleep on an aircraft as it is to sleep in daily life, due to in-cabin noise levels, or comfort of the seats," the researchers noted, citing several other studies on the matter. "Some research has suggested that passengers should combine drug-based interventions with certain ambient or artificial lighting conditions to combat disturbed sleep on intercontinental flights."

Additionally, for many, the fear of flying can cause a sleepless flight, "as well as anxiety regarding potential sleeping arrangements on an aircraft or mitigating the effects of jet lag." Additionally, the team said the number of times a person has flown in the past can also affect their in-air sleep pattern. "As an individual becomes more familiar with flying, it is possible that they would find an increased ability to sleep on a flight."

But if you're someone who flies frequently and still can't sleep, go ahead and give Terblanche's tip a try. At the very least, it can't hurt.

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