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By Charlotte Cooper

Oxygen levels

Being suspended 35,000 feet above the ground means there is less oxygen in the air. Therefore, our bodies have to work harder to get the correct amount of O2 into our bloodstream. This is because the recirculated air doesn’t contain the usual amount of oxygen we breathe in on ground level. In other words, being on an aeroplane is the equivalent to sitting on a mountain eight thousand feet above sea level, so no wonder we feel exhausted.

Sitting for long periods in conditions with reduced O2 level affects our health, causing fatigue and headache-like symptoms. The best way to prevent them is to keep off the alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the body’s metabolism meaning our cells are less efficient at absorbing oxygen from the air; hence why it’s so much easier to get a bit tipsy on a plane. 

Another tip for keeping a level head up in the air is to get your legs moving. Taking regular breaks to walk around during a flight will get the blood flowing around your body and prevent blood clotting in your legs.

Top tips: 

  • Drink plenty of water for two days before you fly to ensure that you are well hydrated. If you are drinking on the flight, make sure you have a glass of water to balance out every alcoholic drink. 
  • Try to get some exercise or go for a walk outdoors before you fly to top up your vitamin D. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and loosen shoes when you sit down. 
  • Wear compression socks to reduce your risk of blood clotting in your legs
  • Get up regularly to stretch your legs 

Reduced humidity

Records have revealed that humidity levels on an aeroplane are under 20% – the same level as a tropical desert – which is a significant drop compared to the luxurious 50% we enjoy in the UK. Reduced moisture in the air can irritate your skin, especially if you wear contact lenses. One of the easiest ways to combat dehydration is to drink plenty of water during your journey. In the air, our bodies are deprived of approximately one and a half litres of water every three hours, which is detrimental for our immune systems. 

Another thing to keep in mind, is the effects low humidity levels have on the outsides of our bodies too. Being airborne can make our skin feel as dry as a prune which isn’t the look, we want when we step off the plane.

Top tips: 

  • Moisturise regularly – including your lips!
  • Avoid salty snacks like nuts and pretzels
  • If possible, eat a healthy, light meal on the ground before the flight.
  • Avoid junk food or any foods that give you gas!! In the air bodily gases expand by a third and the digestion process slows down. 

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