Are Air Miles and Hotel Reward Schemes Worth the Lack of Sleep?

By: Andrew Regan

There are many pros to frequent travelling, such as the great benefits to be gained from membership of the numerous frequent flier and hotel reward schemes which soon mount up if you are always on the move. But, an intriguing article recently appeared in the New York Times that points out the real disadvantage of being a member of the frequent traveler's club, namely lack of sleep on long-haul commercial flights.

The NY Times has found that, after poor customer service, the biggest complaint coming from frequent travelers is that they can't catch enough sleep while they are flying. In fact it is becoming such a problem that travelers are resorting to extreme action to get a few hours of shut-eye. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines are becoming very popular, thanks mainly to the fact they are now a third smaller than they were a few years ago and therefore easier to carry onboard. The machine works by pumping air through a mask, keeping the user's airways open while they sleep, preventing sleep apnea and other similar ailments.

Other frequent travelers resort to alcohol in an attempt to bring on sleep. According to the N Y Times one un-named passenger on an 18-hour flight to Asia said: "I watched two movies, ate three meals, got drunk twice, slept for five hours and I still wasn't there! Plus, when I did arrive I had a hangover." Indeed, it is that hangover element, combined with the fact that alcohol-induced sleep is not fulfilling, that prompts sleep expert Greg Belenky, director of the University of Washington's Sleep & Performance research center to dismiss it. He instead suggests that other drugs such as prescription sleep tablets or natural remedies such as melatonin supplements should be used to get a good rest.

However, taking a prescription sleeping drug that lasts seven hours on a five hour flight could prove a problem, so should only be used for long haul flights. It is generally acknowledged that sleeping in a vertical position causes the body to produce adrenalin-type compounds in order to keep the blood supply flowing and they prevent fitful sleep, so bagging an upgrade to flat-beds in business or first class is the best solution for frequent travelers; but that is an expensive option that many bosses will not sanction.

So, while frequent travelers may have trouble sleeping while they fly, they should be able to catch up using one of their numerous free night's accommodation acquired through their hotel reward scheme memberships; either that, or beg their boss for an upgrade to business or first class while they fly!

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