Q: Why is air travel so exhausting?
Oz Says: It's not just luggage dragging and frustrating delays. Sitting on a plane can take a toll, even when all goes smoothly. Consider this an in-flight checkup.
After takeoff, cabin air is so low-pressure, "it's like sitting on a 6,000-foot mountain," says Alan Hedge, PhD, of Cornell University. Less oxygen circulates to your brain, so you feel sluggish. Don't fight it: Bring a sleep mask and get some zzzs.
Legs and Feet
Sitting on long flights allows blood and fluid to pool here, raising the risk for swelling or potentially dangerous blood clots, says Hedge. Get moving — at least by pointing and flexing your feet — every 30 minutes while you're awake.
There's a reason airplane meals are notoriously bland. And surprise, it's not them, it's you! The low air pressure dulls your taste buds, so foods don't seem as sweet or salty. Tuck a packet of hot sauce or mustard in your carry-on.
When you hunch over to read, your muscles strain to support a 10-pound head. The result: soreness and tension headaches. Bring your book or tablet closer to eye level by propping it up on a few pillows placed on the seat-back tray table.
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