So you've settled into your seat for the long flight, put on your eye mask, and pressed play on your Spotify "sleep" playlist. The doors are closed, so now's the perfect time to try to grab sleep. After all, the sooner you get some shut eye, the likelier you are to arrive at your destination feeling refreshed... right?
Wrong. It turns out that medical professionals actually advise against this very practice.
They caution against sleeping during takeoff (or landing) for the simple reason that the passenger is unable to respond to blocked ears caused by quickly changing air pressure. If you are asleep, you are not chewing, drinking water, or swallowing — a few of the recommended methods to avoid blocked ears. And that can lead to dizziness, ear infections, and eardrum damage — or, in the worst case, nosebleeds and hearing loss.
Pharmacist Angela Chalmers told Britain's Express: “A quick change in altitude affects the air pressure in the ear. This leads to a vacuum in the Eustachian tubes which makes the ears feel blocked and sound dull.”
In short, "Try not to sleep during take-off and descent as you will not be swallowing as frequently and this can lead to blocked ears.”
So indeed, no matter how drowsy you feel as the jet engine hum lulls you into relaxation, just try to hold out for a few minutes longer. After all, you're really supposed to watch the safety video anyway... and some of them are actually worth staying awake for.
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