Where cabin crew sleep

Long-haul journeys can be exhausting for hardworking flight attendants as well as passengers, but where do crew go to unwind and escape demanding flyers?

Many Boeing 777 and 787 planes feature a secret staircase that leads to a tiny set of windowless bedrooms known as Crew Rest Compartments (CRCs).

Fascinating images provide a rare glimpse inside these confined areas, which few people have a chance to witness for themselves.

This image of a Boeing plane shows flight attendants stretched out in the hidden bedroom area, which many passengers don’t get to see

A small staircase can be seen leading to a compartment of sleeping spaces for long-haul crew members. These bedrooms are located in the rear of this Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and there are another two further sections at the front of the plane too

Sleep tight: The cosy  sleeping quarters on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner  feature cushions, pillows and curtains to offer a touch of privacy

Sleep tight: The cosy sleeping quarters on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner  feature cushions, pillows and curtains to offer a touch of privacy

Enter the cabins where aircraft crew sleep during long journeys

Most flyers are unlikely to have spotted the area before, as its narrow stairs are concealed behind a door, which usually requires a code or key to access it, and sleeping areas for crew are discreetly hidden above their heads.

The size and position of these spaces varies depending on each aircraft model, but they are typically nestled away behind the cockpit area, located above first class.

One image of an American Airline’s Boeing 777 300 even shows staff members entering the relaxation areas through a hatch disguised as an overhead bin.

The accommodation is cramped and features an average of eight beds, depending on the airline.

On Boeing 777s, there are between six to ten beds, each containing storage space for flight attendants’ belongings during the journey.

This model of plane also includes a separate area for pilots, with two beds, two business-class seats and, in some airlines, a bathroom area with a sink or lavatory.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO SLEEP IN THE CABIN CREW BEDROOM ACCORDING TO A BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT ATTENDANT

A British Airways flight attendant revealed to MailOnline Travel: ‘On the Boeing 747s it is all bunk beds and on the 777 it feels like you are in a coffin.

‘They are cramped but you can make it comfortable as you get a blanket and a pillow.

‘I always take my own pyjamas and I make a little bed up. I sometimes try to take pillows and blankets from business class if they aren’t in use.

‘It’s very basic, some have TVs but they are tiny, smaller than iPad minis.’

On the Boeing 777, there is a separate area for pilots, with two beds, two business-class seats and, on some airlines, a bathroom area with a sink or lavatory

As this graphic shows, some of the sleeping compartments are situated at the front of the plane above the first class section

As this graphic shows, some of the sleeping compartments are situated at the front of the plane above the first class section

Staff are pictured chatting and relaxing with magazines and refreshments inside the Crew Rest Compartments on a Boeing 777

Some bays come with entertainment systems, a blanket, pillows and on occasion, pyjamas, with each bed separated by draped heavy curtains which muffle out the sounds of other crew.

Different airlines have opted for varying bed layouts, ranging from Malaysian Air A380s, which has beds stacked on top of each other, to American Airlines Boeing 773s, which has beds sectioned-off from a central aisle.

A British Airways flight attendant revealed to MailOnline Travel: ‘On the Boeing 747s it is all bunk beds and on the 777 it feels like you are in a coffin.

‘They are cramped but you can make it comfortable as you get a blanket and a pillow.

‘I always take my own pyjamas and I make a little bed up. I sometimes try to take pillows and blankets from business class if they aren’t in use.

‘It’s very basic, some have TVs but they are tiny, smaller than iPad minis.’

The crew accommodation is cramped and features an average of eight beds, depending on the airline.This image shows the layout inside a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The crew accommodation is cramped and features an average of eight beds, depending on the airline.This image shows the layout inside a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Tight surroundings: Layouts vary depending on each model, but the sleeping areas are typically nestled away behind the cockpit area

Tight surroundings: Layouts vary depending on each model, but the sleeping areas are typically nestled away behind the cockpit area

There is a strict policy of one staff member to each bunk, which usually stretches 6ft long by 2.5ft wide.

Dan Air, the flight attendant behind Confessions of a Trolley Dolley, which has thousands of fans on Facebook and Twitter, told MailOnline Travel: ‘Crew rest areas on certain aircraft are a lot better than they used to be.

‘They are very small and very cramped and yes can be very claustrophobic. It’s not nice being in the tiny, confined space during severe turbulence, it can get very unnerving.

‘In terms of what staff do there, well that would be telling, but I’m sure you can imagine that a lot more than sleeping often goes on here.

‘We try to make them as comfortable as possible for us, bringing our own pyjamas, blankets and teddies to try and help us get some sleep, but to be honest it’s often very difficult to sleep.’

Cathay Pacific ‘A Day in The Life of a Flight Attendant’
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Pilots, sleep & planes

I am a pilot and here is my experience:

A flight of 14 hours means that there are two full crews (for flights requiring two operating pilots). This usually means that the first 30 and last 45 minutes have all four pilots on the flight deck and during the remaining time, two of them are taking a break, splitting it up so that the operating crew—the ones at the controls for landing—get a long break around the middle of the flight, so as to be adequately rested for the arrival, but fully engaged with the last portion.

Many planes have rest areas; small rooms with a couple bunks and a couple seats. Sometimes these seats will have entertainment systems similar to those in the cabin. Other planes will have designated rest seats in the cabin; usually business/first-class seats with curtains to separate them from the light and some of the noise of the cabin.

With such a long flight, it would be unusual if some sleeping weren’t involved. Even if the flight left at body-clock 0800 and arrived at body-clock 2000, the flight crew has been in the plane since at least 0700, arriving at the airport likely 30 minutes earlier. With a close home or layover hotel, they might have awakened at 0530, but it’s likely earlier. That makes for a long, tiring day. Some sleeping is in order, but they can also pursue any other normal form of diversion available to the passengers: read, watch movies, eat, listen to music, play games, etc.

But come on! You have the chance to get paid to sleep! I nap aggressively, like lives depended on it.

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Help for your mornings

Have you ever souped up a motorcycle? Your engine’s roar permeates your nerves. You, the rider, godded everybody around your bike. That’s how powerful I feel every single morning after doing my morning success ritual. I know that I will be ultra productive. And feel confident enough to build a future for my family.

But I was never a morning person

…until a year ago.

Here’s my daily routine before my transformation:

When the alarm blares off, I would groan and hit the snooze button 4 or 5 times. My working hours were unproductive and filled with slimy laziness. I would complain so much that nothing much gets done. Worse still, in the evenings, I just can’t sleep early to get me enough rest. Imagine repeating that for 365 days. Yuck.

All this negativity is why I decided to kill this vicious cycle, and become a morning person. After reading this post, you will know exactly how I (and many night owls) trained ourselves to wake up early.

For a change today, stop waking up like a sloth. Own your mornings like a boss! Stop waking up like a sloth. Own your mornings like a boss! Also, you will discover how your mornings will set yourself up for success – using 3 ninja techniques. If you want to feel great and rejuvenated about life, this post is for you. Excited? Let’s get started.

Ninja Technique # 1 – How to Jump Over Bamboo Trees

Imagine:

A raging army is pitting you against a 5 meter high wall. You, the Grand Master Ninja, grinned, and nonchalantly jumped over it. Crazy, huh? How do ninjas do that? It started when their parents planted a seed of bamboo tree. The future ninjas would then jump over the tiny bamboo shoots, every single day. The bamboo tree will grow at 2 – 3 cm (about 1 inch) every day. Imagine how high they can jump after a year.

When I decided to change from a night owl to a morning lark, I did it 15 minutes at a time. I started by turning back my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. Once my body adjusted few days later, I turned the alarm back another 15 minutes earlier. After a month, I wake up at 5:57am sharp every day – 3 minutes BEFORE the alarm clock rings.

There’s an old Chinese saying, “Don’t try to run when you are learning to crawl”.

You need to take it slow, and let your body adjust. Build up your “wake up” muscles, 5 or 15 minutes at a time. Now, stop reading this post, and turn your alarm back 15 minutes. You will be amazed of how easy it is to wake up tomorrow morning.

Ninja Technique # 2 – Send pleasure hormones gushing

When you were a kid, you woke up super early on your birthday and on Christmas – before everyone else. Ever wonder why? Once you understand why, waking up (and conquering your day) can be ridiculously easy. Because you were EXCITED. Your brains were pumping endorphins, dopamines & adrenalines (pleasure hormones) like a fire hose. Let me explain. With so much pleasure hormones gushing around, it is impossible to be groggy.

“But… I am not a kid, and Christmas is only once a year!”

True. But you can hack your body to produce these hormones at will, just like a magic wand. Ever wonder how? There are 2 simple steps. The first step starts with meditating BEFORE you sleep:
Researchers from University of Southern California and UCLA found that practicing mindfulness meditation is way more effective than those who went to a class to learn about good sleeping habits. In their own words:

We were surprised to find that the effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality was large.

– David Black (Assistant Professor, Keck School of Medicine)

I found that by doing that myself, I sleep better than before, and wake up way more energized. Once you wake up, you now need to get your Endorphins pumping.

Step 2, is simply exercising. No, you don’t have to go to the gym in the morning. Whenever I feel like going back to sleep, a few jumping jacks will just kill the sleepiness. After going for my usual run, I feel physically and emotionally stronger. (Contrary to what night owls tell you, exercising gives you MORE energy.)

Ninja Technique # 3 – Sleeping for Smart People

Let me guess. Right before you sleep, you play with Facebook or other social media using your smart phone. By the time you doze off, you probably forgot to turn off some bedroom lights. Your phone stays right beside you, of course. The next day, you wake up with really heavy eyes. And you wonder why you are so exhausted after 8 hours of sleep.

Let me explain. Over millions of years of evolution, our human body evolved to naturally secrete Melatonin (sleep hormones) in darkness – e.g. at night. Melatonin is the hormone that encourages deep, rejuvenated sleep. For the cavemen, this makes lots of sense. If you live in a cave, you are safer by sleeping in the cave at night – you may be eaten by some wild animals if you are running around outside.

Well, nowadays we have lights everywhere – we can create a “mini day time” in our house at a flip of the switch. After the iPhone popularized, we bring these mini lights into our bed room. Recent scientific research found that these lights STOP Melatonin at its doorstep.

In addition to sunlight, artificial indoor lighting can be bright enough to prevent the release of melatonin.

– SleepFoundation.org

This means these lights are STOPPING you sleeping properly. Here is what I did to reverse my bad sleep habits (it’s super simple, you can do this now):

– 30 minutes before I sleep, I turn OFF all lights and all electronics (including my phone and PC)
– I sit down in the dark silence, and do a short meditation and breathing exercise. This empties my mind and gets me ready to rest.
– After 10 or 15 minutes, I feel really sleepy, and go to the bedroom to sleep. (Remember to turn OFF all lights in your bedroom though)
(Great, I slept 15 minutes earlier than planned!)

That’s how I sleep more effectively. If you want a deeper sleep that lets you take on the next day with bravura, try my 3 steps sleep smarter routine above.

Let’s have a quick recap…

3 Ninja Techniques to Wake Up Earlier

Wake up earlier, 15 minutes at a time. Allow your body to adjust. Then wake up another 15 minutes earlier.

Let your “pleasure hormones” wake you up: When you wake up, do some simple exercises, e.g. jumping jacks.

Sleep smarter. Sleep in total darkness (no lights at all), keep your smart phone away before you sleep.

To make it even easier, here is a list of the DO’s and DON’Ts, just for you:

The DO’s

Turn off ALL lights and electronics (smart phones, tablets etc) before your sleep.
Perform short meditations and breathing exercises before you sleep
Turn back your alarm clock 15 minutes at a time. Allow your body a few days to adjust – it takes time.

The DON’Ts

No technology in the bed room, especially smart phones and tablets.
Don’t snooze. If you feel groggy, exercise a little to release endorphins into your body and feel energized naturally.
Don’t try to wake up 1 hour at a time. Your body won’t be able to adjust properly.

Are you ready? If yes…
Wake up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning.

Of course you can make it – easily.

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Emergency nap kit

We’ve all found ourselves in a dangerous state of drowsiness, half dreaming half awake, unable to function properly, just a couple more weary blinks away from falling helplessly into a deep slumber. Whether you’re sat at your desk or behind the wheel, sometimes you need to just stop what you’re doing and catch up on some quality sleep. You need the Emergency Nap Kit.

Originally designed in Japan with the intention of people using them whilst stranded during an earthquake (of course, just have a niiice relaxing nap while the very fabric of your world crumbles around you), this essential piece of kit allows you to catch a precious 40 winks at a moments notice.

We appreciate that there isn’t always a couple of opportune palm trees nearby, so rather than a hammock this impromptu pack includes a comfortable inflatable mattress for you to rest your weary head. Better still, instead of a cosy blanket that you’ll never want to take off, the kit contains a full-length sleeping suit so you can prolong those warm fuzzy feelings long after your nap.

MORE INFO
Please Note:
Contrary to his ghostly complexion, the model isn’t dead, or at least he wasn’t when we took those photos
Product Features:
Catch some much-needed Z’s at a moment’s notice
Comfy inflatable plastic mattress
Full-length sleeping suit (one size fits most)
Dimensions:
Measures approximately 23cm(W) x 32cm(H) x 14cm(D)

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How much sleep do you need?

Sleep is glorious and many of us feel like we aren’t getting enough of it.

Well, now you have a chart to consult! Just turn to the National Sleep Foundation’s newly released set of recommendations for various points of life, sleep-duration numbers that were developed after an extensive review of past scientific literature and input from a variety medical professionals. The recommendations for age categories from newborns to older adults were published this week in the foundation’s journal Sleep Health.

Here are their recommended sleep times:

  • Zero to three months of age: 14 to 17 hours
  • Four to 11 months of age: 12 to 15 hours
  • One to two years of age: 11 to 14 hours
  • Three to five years of age: 10 to 13 hours
  • Six to 13 years of age: nine to 11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years of age: eight to 10 hours
  • 18 to 25 years of age: seven to nine hours
  • 26 to 64 years of age: seven to nine hours
  • 65 and older: seven to eight hours

By comparison, the National Institutes of Health recommends that newborns sleep 16 to 18 hours; preschoolers sleep 11 to 12 hours; school-aged children sleep at least 10 hours; teenagers sleep nine to 10 hours; and adults, including the elderly, sleep seven to eight hours.

“Sleeping too little and too much are both associated with increased risk of mortality and a range of other adverse health issues: cardiovascular disease, possibly cancer and also impaired psychological well-being,” said Lauren Hale, editor of the journal Sleep Health and associate professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University.

The National Sleep Foundation convened an 18-member panel of sleep experts and people representing 12 different professional health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Geriatrics Society and the American Psychiatric Association.

This panel studied 312 peer-reviewed articles published between 2004 and 2014 that dealt with sleep duration and the effects of too little or too much sleep. Panel members met four times over a nine-month period and voted twice to come up with the recommended numbers.

The scope of the results and the methodology behind them make the recommendations a first, Hale said.

“The National Sleep Foundation felt it was the time and their role to assemble this panel, and they’ve been working on it for years,” Hale said. “There has been a shortage of scientific expert panels on the topic of sleep duration… We just know it’s one of the questions that people ask regularly. People type those questions into Google all the time, and there wasn’t a consensus.”

The foundation had previously posted recommendations on its Web site, but they were “a bit dated” and weren’t developed following the same kind of thorough literature review and input from various professional organizations as the new guidelines, a spokesperson said. In some cases, the previous recommendations included wider hour ranges or more narrow ones. And new categories were added for younger and older adults.

The new recommendations also include “may be appropriate” hour ranges, which can be seen below:

As for how much people are actually sleeping, the data are kind of all over the place. You could look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says the average American over the age of 15 sleeps eight hours and 45 minutes. Or, you could turn to a 2013 Gallup poll in which the average American reported sleeping 6.8 hours nightly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. And Hale, who focuses on teenagers, said most American teens are simply not sleeping enough on a whole.

Hale said that while every individual is a little different, the recommendations can provide guidance for parents and others in creating household environments conducive to children and adults alike getting enough sleep (think: electronics off and lights out). And if people are sleeping over the recommended range, this may be a signal of other health problems, such as depression.

“There are always exceptions, whether it’s a flight to catch, a test to take, things to do, and some days you need to sleep over the range because you are sick,” Hale said. “But, on a regular basis, you should try to aim for the recommended range.”

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