How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep on Any Airplane - BLOOMBERG
AUGUST 28, 2023
(Bloomberg) -- At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to road warriors to learn about their high-end hacks, tips and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.
FaceGym founder Inge Theron’s beauty brand started with a single space inside London’s Selfridges department store in 2014. This year it opened its first studio in Sydney, after expanding to France, Los Angeles, New York and across the UK.
The company’s skincare products, tools and sculpting methods have been used by such celebrities as Nicole Kidman to get ready for the red carpet ahead of the Oscars. Spider-Man’s Tom Holland posted a video of him using the brand’s £575 ($722) FaceGym Pro e-stim device when doing press for his Apple TV+ series, The Crowded Room, this summer.
Theron, who is originally from South Africa and now lives in London with her husband and two daughters, logs nearly 100,000 miles a year flying long-haul to Asia, the Middle East and the US, where she’s been designing wellness spaces in Japan, Qatar and Miami; she also counts a weekly commute to Milan, where many of the product and material designers for her spas are based.
Her airline of choice? Emirates. “The service is second to none,” she says, noting the spacious suites in first class and their luxurious lounges. She used to fly primarily on British Airways, but found the UK flag carrier’s service to have gone downhill in recent years.
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Here are her travel tips.
Sitting in a window seat? Don’t forget your SPF.
My really big tip for skin on the plane is you have to wear sunblock, especially if you’re sitting in a window seat. No one thinks about putting on SPF on a plane, but you absolutely have to, as airplane windows don’t protect you fully from the sunlight coming in. You can get sun damage from flights.
The trick to sleeping on a plane is packing the right products.
I like a little tipple on the plane—despite knowing better—but I have found a way to mitigate my bad habits, and I do this with ZBiotics, a probiotic I take before drinking that’s supposed to ward off hangovers. I also travel with my own full blackout face mask by Z Lab and Calmor wax ear plugs for total peace and quiet, as I’m one of those people who need total darkness and silence to sleep.
Recently I’ve been using a Vagus nerve calming device called Sensate to help me drift off. What it does is send out small sound waves and vibrates in a way that soothes your nervous system. I also take 1 mg of melatonin, in chocolate form, from Good Day, and that feels like a treat. Those are my secret weapons; now it takes me just 10 minutes to fall asleep once the plane is in the air.
And for fighting jet lag, follow a neuroscientist’s advice.Once I’m on the plane, I eat and sleep as if I’m already at my destination. But I find my morning routines are just as important when I’m getting used to a new time zone. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is open the windows and look at the natural light.
I’m an Andrew Huberman fanatic, and so I’ve been following his neuroscience protocols. He says the way you wake up in the morning is the way you’re going to go to sleep at night. So if you wake up late, at say 10 or 11, and you look at the sunlight for the first time, that will have a massive impact on when you want to go to bed at night. So, getting light exposure first thing in the early morning sets you up for a really good sleep in the evening and helps keep you alert in the day.
If you’re shipping your luggage instead of checking it, be careful what you pack.
I sent my luggage ahead to the Hamptons this summer by FedEx [from Europe] because I like to travel with just one bag, but don't want to be limited in what I can bring. But because of all the supplements I’m trying now, my bag got stuck in customs for two weeks. So when I arrived in New York, I had to borrow dresses from friends, I had to go buy new things.
Sending your luggage to your destination ahead of time sounds clever, but make sure that it’s just clothes you’re packing. Don’t put in any gnarly new pills or peptide injections in your luggage, especially if you’re going to America.
The best hotel in the world is Claridge’s in London.
It’s not just because I did the spa there, but every time I’ve stayed at Claridge’s, I’ve been impressed with the thoughtfulness and level of service they’ve perfected over 200 years. I’ve gone at Christmas, and they decorated the kids’ rooms with disco lights and set up a treasure hunt all around the rooms with hidden chocolates.
The way they curate and personalize for guests is incredible: They’ll actually go on your Instagram, see what your kids are doing, see what football teams they like and then there’ll be a football jersey for that team in the bedroom. It’s that level of attention to detail that makes the hotel so special. A lo-fi hack for pesky night lights.
Before I had my blackout glasses, the red lights in hotel rooms were such a problem that I used to have to travel with kids’ Band-Aids. I’d be spending $3,000 a night on a room and would be running around with Band-Aids, sticking them on things to block out the lights from the TV and other devices.
Sometimes hotels have thought they’re being really clever by giving you this fabulous iPad, but the way they light up can be a problem when you’re trying to sleep. I was in the Equinox Hotel in New York, which is meant to be this longevity hotel, and their new system is meant to make your life easier—with one touch on an iPad to get anything you want, but it gives off this enormous big light at night. So you’ve got blackout blinds, but the light coming from inside the room has become the problem.
On your next trip to Italy, go to Umbria instead of Tuscany.
People call Umbria the poorer cousin of Tuscany, but it’s unfairly off the radar for many travelers. There are incredible little villages that produce wonderful artisanal goods like clay pottery and leather goods from the people that supply big brands like Donna Karan, not to mention the Brunello Cucinelli store in Solomeo. There is wonderful biking and hiking, and if you love meaty pasta with a delicious full-bodied red Sagrantino, there is no better place to go than Montefalco.
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Make sure to go in early summer when each village has their special sagra, a local street festival dedicated to food. And don’t forget to explore the medieval village of Todi while you’re there.
For family travel, nothing beats a good kids’ club.
I love a hotel that offers a really well-thought-through kids’ menu of entertainment. That’s my booking mentality right now. I would spend a fortune if my kids are happy, so I’m quite astounded by the fact that many hotels don’t put more energy into kids’ clubs. The Four Seasons as a brand do it quite well, as well as Jumeirah in the Middle East.
The Jumeirah Mina A’Salam in Dubai has got it down to a science. They have multiple kids’ clubs and full schedules of programming with things like outdoor movies, water sports and henna temporary tattoos. It’s family-first in the Middle East, which is why Dubai has managed to crawl into our list of annual holidays, because my kids think it’s the best place in the world. They think it’s better than Disneyland.