Exactly no one relishes a long flight as a time to get comfortable, quality sleep. But according to new research from Airbus, just a small adjustment to the width of your seat could make a big difference.
Widening seats to 18 inches was shown to boost sleep quality by 53 percent, compared to 17-inch wide seats, Airbus found in a very small study. The wider seat also helped travelers fall asleep faster and reduced awakening, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The research was conducted by the London Sleep Centre with sleep technology to measure brainwaves, as well as eye, core, chest and leg movement.
"All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer nights' sleep in the 18 inch seat," Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim of the London Sleep Centre said in a statement. "They went from one sleep stage to the next as you would expect them to do under normal circumstances. Whilst, in the narrower 17 inch seat the passengers were affected by numerous disturbances during sleep -- which meant they rarely experienced deep restorative sleep. When it comes to flying long haul in economy, an inch makes a huge difference on passenger comfort."
Other industries have already widened their products to accommodate ever-expanding waistlines, including wheelchairs, toilets and even coffins, Health.com reported.
But, as Businessweek points out, airlines are in the midst of doing just the opposite, by adding more (read: narrower) seats into coach cabins to generate more revenue. "In the perpetual battle between passenger comfort and airline economics, the poor cramped souls in the back shouldn’t expect any space relief," according to the publication.
In the meantime, taking along a travel pillow and an eye-mask, as well as buckling your seatbelt over your blanket so you won't be interrupted, might help you to enjoy a more restful trip.