While the A-lis­ters dis­em­bark look­ing rested, we steer­age folk ar­rive in ar­rivals look­ing tested. So what re­ally goes down when you’re at 38,000 feet?

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

...you fly long haul?


It’s a good thing the en­gine is so loud – be­cause there is a lot of fart­ing go­ing on. ‘The al­ti­tude and lower-thanaver­age air pressure in the cabin causes gas to ex­pand, so you might ex­pe­ri­ence ab­dom­i­nal bloat­ing, dis­com­fort and flat­u­lence,’ ex­plains Dr Gareth Cor­bett, con­sul­tant gas­troen­terol­o­gist at Cam­bridge Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals. ‘And as your blood will only be at 92-94% oxy­gena­tion (a nor­mal range is 95-100%), you’ll strug­gle to move food from your stom­ach to your small in­tes­tine.’

Lay off fizzy drinks and high-fi­bre or fer­mented foods and opt for still wa­ter or juice and white carbs, which will be more eas­ily bro­ken down by your stom­ach en­zymes.


It’s not just your stom­ach that finds it hard to ad­just. ‘Low hu­mid­ity in the cabin over long jour­neys leads to a de­crease in hy­dra­tion in the outer layer of your skin,’ warns con­sul­tant der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Jus­tine Kluk. ‘This may man­i­fest in tight, peel­ing skin, dry eyes or chapped lips.’ To swerve sand­pa­pery skin, nav­i­gate the tiny toi­let cu­bi­cle to re­move your make-up and ap­ply a hyaluronic acid-based serum. It holds up to 1,000 times its weight in wa­ter mol­e­cules, draw­ing mois­ture deeper into the skin.


‘Your body clock runs in a cir­ca­dian rhythm, mean­ing that it re­sets ev­ery 24 hours,’ ex­plains Dr Christo­pher-james Har­vey, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor at Nuffield De­part­ment of Clin­i­cal Neu­ro­sciences. ‘It keeps your phys­i­ol­ogy tick­ing over and re­sponds to cues like light, food and tem­per­a­ture.’ The up­shot? Spend 12 hours in a tin can and your body clock loses its shit in the form of fluc­tu­at­ing cor­ti­sol and mela­tonin lev­els. Your sleep isn’t the only thing that suf­fers – it can also af­fect your con­cen­tra­tion, co­or­di­na­tion and emo­tions.


Speak­ing of emo­tions, if you’re weep­ing into your wet wipe, it’s no sur­prise. While there have been no peer-re­viewed stud­ies on why we cry on planes, re­searchers sus­pect that it could be due to some com­bi­na­tion of sleep de­pri­va­tion and hor­monal up­heaval as well as a phe­nom­e­non called ‘stranger in­ti­macy’ – the strange combo of ex­treme prox­im­ity and co­coon-like com­fort could be enough to set you off. Do your­self a favour – don’t watch

The Note­book, yeah?


Shoot­ing wary glances at the se­rial sneezer in 14A? We don’t blame you. But while you can catch a cold on a plane, you’re no more likely to than you are at any other crowded in­door place, like the cin­ema. Save your scep­ti­cism for the tray ta­ble, which can har­bour up to 10 times more bac­te­ria than the plane toi­let flush (ick) – and be sure to pack some an­tibac­te­rial gel in your hand lug­gage.

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