Can you use a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea?

Can you use a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea?

Couple Sleeping - Can you use a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea?

Do you struggle with sleep apnea? If so, you might have stumbled upon weighted blankets and thought: can I use a weighted blanket if I have sleep apnea?

You should not use a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea. A weighted blanket may restrict breathing while you’re sleeping. However, weighted blankets are effective at treating anxiety and depression as well as ADHD.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax, closing your airways. You may wake up gasping for air or with dry mouth as a result. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t tell you to breathe. It’s not sending the right signals to your diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central. It’s not nearly as common as either of the above types.

Whether or not you have obstructive, central, or complex, everyone’s body may react differently to treatment. For many, a CPAP machine is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. They are sometimes used to treat central and complex sleep apnea as well.

To find out what treatment works best for you, you can choose to undergo a sleep study. Observers will monitor you while you sleep to help determine the best course of action to treat your sleep apnea.

Although a weighted blanket won’t help treat sleep apnea, there are many other things you can do.

  • Lose weight and stay active
  • Take decongestants, allergy meds, or nasal sprays
  • Try sleeping in a different position – on one side or on your back

Sleep apnea is more common and often more severe in people with pre-existing conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • History of a stroke or heart attack

Everyone’s treatment for sleep apnea may be slightly different depending on its severity and your current behaviors and habits. So, it’s incredibly important to consult your doctor before treating sleep apnea.

Large hospitals will often have sleep centers with sleep specialists with whom you can book appointments. Your primary care physician may also have recommendations if you’re struggling with sleep apnea.

Check out our weighted blanket ultimate guide to find the right one for you.

Can weighted blankets be harmful?

Yes, weighted blankets can be harmful to people with obstructive sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other related respiratory conditions.

Weighted blankets, as the name suggests, can be pretty heavy. They put constant pressure on the ribcage and diaphragm while you are sleeping. To most people, this is not harmful.

But if you already have a respiratory condition that restricts breathing, a weighted blanket can exacerbate that problem.

If you have trouble sleeping and you have a respiratory condition, ask your doctor about other treatment options. 

If your weighted blanket is too heavy, it can cause some breathing problems. Make sure to find the right weight for your weighted blanket so you can sleep comfortably.

Is it OK to sleep with a weighted blanket every night?

That depends on the person. Some people will find comfort sleeping with their weighted blanket two to three times a week. Others may love to use it every day. Early on, you may want to use it just a few times a week. That way you get used to the weight and don’t become too sore over time.

After a few weeks, you can start using your weighted blanket more. Everyone is different so you just have to try the weighted blanket out for a few weeks. You’ll learn what works best for you over time.

If you have a respiratory condition, be cautious. Consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket, as it can be dangerous for sensitive groups.

Do doctors recommend weighted blankets?

Doctors recommend weighted blankets on a case-by-case basis. Studies have shown that they help reduce anxiety and depression, along with ADHD. Weighted blankets are a common treatment for children and may be recommended by doctors to treat these conditions.

Studies show that weighted blankets are less effective at improving sleep in children with autism, but they may still be recommended in some cases.

Are weighted blankets good for side sleepers?

Yes, weighted blankets can be great for side sleepers. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want a lighter weighted blanket than people who sleep on their back.

If you sleep on your side, your weight won’t be evenly distributed. Instead, you’ll be putting more pressure on your right or left side and hip. So, take 10% of your body weight, then subtract about five pounds from that number.

Do weighted blankets help with back pain?

Yes, a weighted blanket can help with back pain as long as it’s not too heavy. Consult your doctor first, though. You don’t want to make the back pain any worse.

If you continue to struggle with back pain while using a weighted blanket, try sleeping on your back. Your weight will be more evenly distributed. 

Does weighted blanket help with anxiety?

Yes. Weighted blankets increase dopamine and serotonin levels, stress-reducing hormones that help you relax and feel happy. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine conducted a study proving the effectiveness of weighted blankets to treat anxiety.

Are weighted blankets good for depression?

Yes, weighted blankets are effective at treating depression and anxiety. They increase the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the body. These chemicals are neurotransmitters that tell your brain to feel happy and relaxed.

Is a weighted blanket good for fibromyalgia?

Yes! Those with fibromyalgia have low serotonin, so increasing serotonin levels is key for treatment. Using a weighted blanket decreased cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increased serotonin levels (happiness hormone), according to one study

Is a weighted blanket good for insomnia?

Yes, weighted blankets are quite effective at treating insomnia, according to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The study involved 120 participants. Half were given a light blanket, the other half were given a weighted blanket. They were monitored for four weeks. 

With the weighted blanket, people felt more energetic during the day and had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, the study found.

Is a weighted blanket good for autism?

Deep pressure stimulation has shown to be effective at calming people with autism. That being said, there’s not a lot of research out there on this topic. Most researchers cite a study where Temple Grandin, who has autism, built a “hug machine” or sleep machine. She used this and, in short, it was calming for her. 

Here’s what she said about it, from this 1992 study:

“At age 18, I constructed the squeeze machine to help calm down the anxiety and panic attacks. Using the machine for 15 minutes would reduce my anxiety for up to 45-60 minutes (Grandin and Scariano 1986). The relaxing effect was maximized if the machine was used twice a day.” 

Temple Grandin is a scientist known for her work surrounding autism.

Is a weighted blanket good for the elderly?

Yes, weighted blankets are just as effective for the elderly as younger people. That being said, depression can be a common early sign of dementia as people age (see this study). So a weighted blanket can help combat depression (and anxiety) and thus reduce the risk of dementia.

Also, elderly people may have other respiratory conditions and heart problems that can’t be ignored. If they have COPD, sleep apnea, issues with circulation, or history of a stroke, weighted blankets are not recommended.

We hope you found this article on weighted blankets and sleep apnea helpful. Always remember to consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket. More often than not, it won’t be the right choice to treat your sleep apnea. Ask about alternative options for treatment.

Thanks for stopping by!

How heavy should my weighted blanket be?

How heavy should my weighted blanket be?

Lrage bedroom with a rug - How heavy should my weighted blanket be?

Are you in the market for a weighted blanket? Studies have shown that they are effective at calming people and improving sleep habits. Also, they help people with ADHD and other related conditions sleep better, according to this report.

But, keep in mind that not all weighted blankets are the same. Different weighted blankets will be better for different people depending on their weight and sleeping habits.

One of the first questions people ask when looking for a weighted blanket is: how heavy should my weighted blanket be?

Your weighted blanket should be about 10% of your body weight. Adults can add between one and two pounds to that weight for their weighted blanket.

For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, your weighted blanket should be between 12 and 14 pounds.

Weight Blanket Weight Table

The weight of your weighted blanket can fluctuate a little depending on your personal preference too. For some people, a lighter weighted blanket will be comfortable. Others might prefer a slightly heavier weighted blanket.

Obviously, you want to find the right weighted blanket for you as soon as possible. But, the reality is it might take a couple of purchases.

You might try a 14 pound weighted blanket for a few weeks and feel no change in your sleep patterns or little pressure. If it doesn’t feel snug, you might consider a 15 or 16-pound blanket.

Weight might not be your only issue, too. Weighted blankets are filled with a wide variety of fillings, from sand to glass beads. Glass beads are one of the most popular. But you might try a different filling if your current weighted blanket isn’t working for you. To learn more about weighted blanket fillings, click here.

Is a 15-pound weighted blanket enough?

A 15-pound weighted blanket is enough for a 130 to 150-pound adult. Just divide your weight by 10 to get the approximate weighted blanket weight for you.

How much do weighted blankets actually weigh?

Weighted blankets range from about 5 pounds to 30 pounds. The five to eight pound weighted blankets are typically for kids weighing between 50 and 80 pounds. Beyond that, you can typically find weighted blankets at 10, 15, 20, 25, and even 30 pounds.

Which is better: a 15 lb or 20 lb weighted blanket?

That depends on your weight. A 15 pound blanket is great for a 130 to 150 pound person. A 20 pound blanket works for a 180 to 200 pound person. You can be a little flexible with the weight and add a pound or two depending on how it feels.

What happens if you use a weighted blanket that is too heavy?

Large white bed in bedroom with TV

With a weighted blanket that’s too heavy, you may experience some intense soreness after sleeping with it for a couple of weeks. Soreness is normal but it should not be painful to sleep with your weighted blanket.

A heavy weighted blanket may also make you feel claustrophobic. You should still be able to move around inside the blanket without too much trouble. So, if you can barely move your arms and legs, you probably have a blanket that’s too heavy.

Also, a heavy weighted blanket will actually make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. You might have some difficulty breathing.

If you notice any of the above signs, don’t use the weighted blanket. See if you can return it for a lighter one or find another online that works better for you.

Is it okay to sleep with a weighted blanket every night?

Yes, you can sleep with a weighted blanket every night. If you’re new to using weighted blankets, you might get sore after a few days of use. How you use your weighted blanket is up to you. You might choose to just use it for a few hours at a time for a nap. Or, maybe overnight works better for you. Just test it out and you’ll learn what’s most comfortable over time.

Can weighted blankets be too heavy?

Yes, weighted blankets can be too heavy. The general rule is to divide your total weight by 10. Then add one or two pounds to that for your weighted blanket weight.

If you go too much heavier than that, you might experience some shortness of breath or claustrophobia. This will make it quite difficult to fall asleep, defeating the purpose of your weighted blanket. So it’s very important to purchase one that’s at the correct weight for you.

Is a 12 lb weighted blanket enough?

A 12 pound weighted blanket is enough for most teenagers or small adults. If you weigh between 100 and 120 pounds, a 12 pound weighted blanket is great.

Should you sleep with a weighted blanket every night?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You should use your weighted blanket for three to four weeks and try out a few different things. One week, you could use it every night. The next week, four nights a week. Maybe you only use it for an hour before you fall asleep, then switch to a different blanket. You’ll have to figure this out for yourself.

When starting out with your new blanket, you may get sore after just a few days. That’s normal and shouldn’t discourage you from using your blanket. In the beginning, you may want to use it less to get used to the feeling of it.

How long does it take for a weighted blanket to work?

Most people will feel the beneficial effects of a weighted blanket after a few days. Some will feel the impact of it immediately, and others may not see any impact. If your weighted blanket doesn’t seem to work, just be patient.

You might have to try a few different types. You can go with a lighter blanket, a heavier one, one with different fillings…you have a lot of options.

For a weighted blanket to work well, make sure it’s the right weight. Just divide your total weight by 10 and add 1-2 pounds to get the weight of your weighted blanket.

This might not be the exact weight that works for you, but most people will find comfort within this range. The main benefits of a weighted blanket include reduced anxiety and improved sleep.

They don’t tend to work as well on people who have sleep apnea or snore, since they may restrict breathing. It may be a good idea to talk to a sleep doctor if you continue to struggle with sleep. Ask them if a weighted blanket is a good option for you and go from there.

Follow the advice in our weighted blanket ultimate guide to find the best weighted blanket for you.

We hope you enjoyed this weighted blanket weight guide. Do you still have some questions about weighted blankets? No problem. We might have the answer for you below!

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Can I bring a lighter on a plane? (TSA’s Rules)

Can I bring a lighter on a plane? (TSA’s Rules)

Women picking up luggage - can I bring a lighter on a plane?

Can I bring a lighter on a plane? This is one of the most common questions that people ask themselves when preparing for their flight. While some lighters are permitted, there are restrictions as to what type you can bring and how it’s packed in your luggage.

Arc lighters, electronic lighters, and plasma lighters are not allowed on a plane or in carry on bags. But you can bring one disposable or one zippo lighter on a plane, according to the Department of Transportation. They are allowed in checked bags too, as long as they don’t have any fuel. If you want to bring lighters with fuel in checked baggage, they must be in a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved case. You can bring up to two lighters in checked bags if they are packed correctly.

Read on to learn more about how your lighter should be packed in your luggage and what types of lighters are allowed!

Can you bring a Bic lighter on a plane?

You can bring one Bic lighter on a plane. According to the Department of Transportation, you can only bring one lighter that uses a flammable gas like butane or a flammable liquid like Zippo lighters.

Bic lighters use butane. They fall under the category of disposable lighters which are allowed on a plane according to the TSA. A disposable lighter is one that you throw out when it runs out of fuel.

Can you take a cigarette lighter on a plane?

Disposable lighters or Zippo lighters are allowed on a plane without fuel. If you want to bring a lighter with fuel, it must be in your checked bags in a Department of Transportation approved case.

Disposable lighters are lighters that you throw out when you run out of fuel. Zippo is a brand of cigarette lighters, which the TSA allows on a plane without fuel.

Can I take a lighter on a domestic flight?

Yes, you can take one disposable or Zippo lighter on a domestic flight with fuel. There’s no limit to how many empty lighters you can bring, but you may be subject to additional screening when you go through airport security.

Can you take a butane lighter in checked baggage?

Butane torch lighters are not allowed in checked baggage unless they are in a DOT approved case. If so, you can bring up to two butane torch lighters. But they are not allowed to carry on a plane. Bic lighters, which use butane, are allowed on a plane. 

Liquid fuel lighters must have an absorbent lining like a Zippo lighter. Otherwise they are not allowed on a plane. You can bring up to two lighters in your checked bags as long as they are approved by the Department of Transportation.

What happens if a lighter is found in your checked luggage?

If a lighter is found in your checked luggage, the TSA agent may check if it’s empty. You can carry as many empty lighters as you like, but it may take some time to get through security. If the lighter has fuel, it must be in a DOT approved case. You cannot have more than two lighters in checked baggage in DOT approved cases.

If you can’t take all your lighters with you, you’ll have to give them to someone who is not traveling. You could empty the lighter, too, but that takes some work.

If you’re interested here’s a quick video on how to empty and refill a Bic lighter with butane.

Can you pack a lighter in checked luggage?

You can pack up to two lighters in checked luggage if they are in DOT approved cases. A DOT approved case is a durable, airtight case that prevents any fuel from leaking or sparks from igniting during travel. Stray sparks in an airplane cabin can lead to dangerous fires so the TSA is strict about how lighters are packed.

What are DOT approved cases for lighters?

Some lighter companies like Zippo, Colibri, and Prometheus manufacture DOT approved cases for lighters. This allows you to travel with lighters that contain fuel in checked baggage. You can even travel with torch lighters, as long as they are secure in a DOT approved case. You can’t bring more than two lighters in DOT approved cases on a plane.

You can find the DOT approved cases on the companies’ websites or occasionally on Amazon.

Is a Bic lighter DOT approved?

Yes, you can bring one Bic lighter on a plane. The lighter must be in your carry on bag or in your pocket, not in checked baggage. You can bring up to two butane torch lighters in checked baggage if they are secure in a DOT approved case.

Are torch lighters allowed in checked baggage?

Yes, torch lighters are allowed in checked baggage. But they must be packed in a case approved by the Department of Transportation. Any lighter fluid that leaks into the airplane cabin poses a huge risk of igniting a fire, endangering everyone on board. So you don’t have any wiggle room when it comes to this rule. A DOT approved case is required for torch lighters with no exceptions.

Can you bring an electric lighter on a plane?

Unfortunately, you can’t bring an electric lighter on a plane or in checked baggage. The TSA also does not allow arc lighters or plasma lighters on a plane or in your checked bags. There’s no way around this, so be sure to leave it at your house before you head to the airport. If you bring it, it’ll be confiscated, so be sure to double check your bags!

How do I carry a lighter on a plane?

The lighter must be in your carry on bag or in your pocket. Don’t use your lighter on the plane as it is a fire hazard.

Hopefully this article on bringing lighters on a plane has helped you prepare for your next trip! If you still have lots to pack, be sure to check out our other ‘can I bring?’ articles below!

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Can I bring alcohol on a plane?

Can I bring alcohol on a plane?

Can I bring alcohol on a plane?

As you’re packing for your trip, you notice alcohol in your fridge. You’d like to bring it along to enjoy time with your friends and family. But, you wonder: can I bring alcohol on a plane?

We’ll go over the TSA guidelines for alcohol in this article. We’ll also talk about the rules for bringing alcohol in your checked baggage.

If you’re wondering if you can drink your own alcohol on a plane, we’ll go over that too. Let’s get started!

Can I bring alcohol in my carry-on bag?

Yes, you can bring alcohol in your carry-on bag. But, it’s subject to the TSA’s 3:1:1 liquid rule. This means you can bring a maximum of 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of alcohol on a plane. You can bring mini bottles of alcohol on a plane as long as they fit nicely inside a quart-sized bag.

The containers must be able to fit inside one bag, and there’s a limit of one bag per passenger.

It’s not a good idea to overflow your bag or pack it really tightly. This won’t go unnoticed by the TSA and it’ll just be more difficult for you to travel with all that extra liquid. So make sure you follow the rules for a smooth experience through airport security.

Can I bring alcohol on a plane in checked baggage?

Man drinking alcohol on a plane

Yes. Drinks that are between 24% (48 proof) and 70% alcohol (140 proof) must be five liters or less (1.3 gallons) in checked bags. They must be stored in unopened retail boxes, according to the TSA.

Most beers and wines that you can get from some grocery stores or liquor stores are on the lower end of this spectrum: around 48 proof.

Most vodka is 80 proof and whiskey ranges between 80 to 100 proof on average.

If you have alcohol under 24% concentrated, then there’s no limit on how much you can bring. 

Of course, it has to fit in your checked baggage, and your checked bag has to remain within the airline’s bag weight limit. But beyond that there are no requirements for under 24% alcohol.

You cannot pack alcohol in your checked luggage that is over 70% alcohol or 140 proof.

How do I pack alcohol in my checked luggage?

The TSA requires that alcohol between 24% and 70% concentrate must be in unopened retail packaging. They likely want to be able to quickly identify if the liquid is dangerous or suspicious if your bag needs to be checked. An unopened box with the labels on it gives the agents more confidence that the substance is safe.

Can airport scanners detect alcohol?

Airport x-ray scanners can tell if alcohol is in your carry-on bag. If it is not 3.4 ounces or 100 mL, the TSA agents will confiscate the drink. The scanners cannot tell if you have been drinking, nor does the TSA pay attention to that. Of course, if you are drunk to the point of being disruptive or obnoxious, the agents may call security. But many places around the airport serve drinks so you don’t need to worry about having some alcohol in your system.

If you brought too much alcohol and you’re stopped by a TSA agent, you have a few options.

  1. Dump out the liquid and carry the bottle or container on the plane.
  2. Dump out the liquid and leave 3.4 ounces or less to bring on the plane.
  3. Throw out the bottle or container.
  4. Have someone who is not traveling take your alcohol before you go through security and board the plane.
  5. Give the alcohol to the TSA agent. (They can’t drink on the job, but they will confiscate it!)

Your best option is to probably throw it out or give it to someone who is not traveling, if they’re available. You don’t want to hold up the line or lose your place in line because you didn’t follow the TSA liquid rules. Especially on busy days with crowded airports, that can be a real hassle!

How do you sneak alcohol through airport security?

Do not try to sneak alcohol through airport security. It won’t work. After you drop off your checked luggage, you’ll go through an x-ray scanner and so will your carry-on bag. The scanner will detect alcohol. If it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, it will be confiscated.

Think carefully before you decide to try breaking the TSA rules. In reality, you are just inconveniencing others and inconveniencing yourself by causing unnecessary delays for the TSA agents.

You cannot drink your own alcohol on a plane, anyway. So there’s no point in sneaking your own alcohol on a plane. Just purchase alcohol when you get to your destination so you don’t have to skirt any rules.

Can you take a bottle of wine in your checked luggage?

Yes, wine fits between the 24% and 70% alcohol content required by the TSA for checked baggage. You can take up to 5 liters of alcohol, so bring a few bottles if you’d like!

Can you take alcohol on a plane if you’re under 21?

Interior of an Airplane with Lights On

This depends on the specific alcohol laws in your state. Some states prohibit minors from possessing alcohol, while others only prohibit consuming it or buying it. You might catch some weird glances if you’re carrying a bunch of alcohol up to the security checkpoint. Not to mention that you have to stay within the TSA’s 3.4 ounce/100 mL liquid rule.

To avoid the hassle of your state’s laws and following the strict liquid rule, carry the alcohol in your checked bags. Even if you’re under 21, this shouldn’t be a problem. The agents won’t associate your age with the luggage they see, unless you do something suspicious.

Just be sure to pack 5 liters or less of 48 proof to 140 proof alcohol.

Utah, for example, has pretty strict laws on alcohol consumption. If you’re under 21, you cannot purchase or consume alcohol. Violating this law may result in a class B misdemeanor, up to 6 months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. You could also get your driver’s license suspended.

Check your state’s laws before you carry alcohol on a plane under 21. If in doubt, pack it in your checked luggage. 

Will a wine bottle explode on an airplane?

No, the airplane cabins with checked baggage are pressurized and kept at a specific temperature. They won’t explode on a plane. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to bring a whole bottle of wine on a plane. It will have to go in your checked luggage. You can only bring 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of alcohol on a plane.

Can you drink your own alcohol on a plane?

No, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits you from drinking your own alcohol on a plane. They only allow you to drink alcohol provided by the airline.

Airlines don’t want to have to deal with drunk passengers or any problems that could arise from that. You don’t want fights breaking out in a small confined space 35,000 feet in the air!

How do you drink alcohol on a plane?

Some airlines will serve alcohol. This is the only way you can drink it on a plane. You can’t drink your own alcohol on a plane, but you can bring it. It just has to be under 3.4 ounces.

Can I bring alcohol on an American Airlines flight?

American Airlines follows the exact TSA guidelines. You can only bring 3.4 ounces of alcohol or less on a plane. They’re allowed in checked baggage if the beverage is between 25% and 70% alcohol and under five liters.

Can I bring alcohol on a United Airlines flight?

As the TSA guidelines state, you can bring 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of alcohol on a United Airlines flight. You’re not allowed to drink alcohol on the plane. But if you wanted to bring some with you, pack it in your checked baggage. You can pack up to five liters that’s between 25% and 70% alcohol.

Can I bring alcohol on a Southwest airlines flight?

You can bring 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of alcohol on a Southwest flight, just like the other major airlines. Southwest also follows the TSA checked baggage rules. You can bring up to 5 liters of alcohol that’s between 48 and 140 proof.

Are you noticing a pattern? Pretty much every major airline follows the TSA guidelines exactly. That being said, it’s still good to go to their specific website. Sometimes airlines have stricter requirements than the TSA, requirements that they don’t mention. You can also go to each airline’s website to see if they serve any alcohol on board. That’s the only way you can drink any on a plane, after all.

Can I bring alcohol on a plane for an international flight?

Yes, the same rules for bringing alcohol on a plane for domestic flights apply to international flights. You can bring 100 mL of alcohol on the plane. In checked baggage, the alcohol must be 24% to 70% concentrated, but you can bring up to 5 liters.

The TSA has a couple of specific requirements for traveling with alcohol on connecting flights/bring it overseas.

If you are bringing alcohol from overseas to the United States for a connecting flight, the bottles must be unopened and sealed securely. Also, you must show proof that you bought the alcohol within the last 48 hours. Hang on to the receipt so you can bring your alcohol home.

Regarding wine or spirits, the TSA doesn’t handle those regulations. Customs and Border Patrol does. They may get suspicious if you’re trying to bring more than a case of alcohol back to the States.

Beyond that, you’ll have to look at your state’s requirements. Every state has different requirements on what types of alcohol you can bring, and how much. So be sure to do your due diligence and conduct some research in advance.

Recap

We hope that this article helped you decide on what you can and can’t pack when it comes to alcohol. Remember, if in doubt, you can pack wine or beer in your checked bags. Even vodka and whiskey is allowed; you just can’t bring anything over 140 proof. And don’t bring too much – 5 liters is the limit!

Good luck and have a great trip!

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Is flying at night dangerous?

Is flying at night dangerous?

Plane on Runway at night - is flying at night dangerous?

Have you ever been on a night time flight? If you’re a frequent flyer, chances are, you have.

For the passenger, not much is different. In the day, you’re awake. You might be chatting with your family, having a snack, or watching a show. In the night, you sleep.

But what about pilots? You might be wondering: Do they need to be more alert at night? How do pilots navigate in the dark? Is flying at night dangerous?

In short, flying at night is not dangerous. It poses a few more risks than flying during the day, but these are routine risks for pilots. In fact, pilots use the same radars and navigation systems to fly the plane in the night vs. the day. So night or day flying is incredibly safe.

You might be wondering: does night flying require any specific training? The answer is yes. There are specific requirements for night flying that every pilot must complete before flying passengers. You may have more experienced pilots or less experienced pilots. But every one will go through the same training before they can fly at night.

Beginning pilots must complete takeoffs and landings at night, as well as night navigation around the airport before landing. Each pilot has a flight instructor that approves them for nighttime flying if they pass their tests.

The FAA even defines “night” to make sure that pilots are ready to fly in the darkest times of the day. Night refers to the time period from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Pilot training for night time flying is only conducted during this time.

When an instructor approves a pilot, they are legally allowed to fly passengers at night. Every 90 days, pilots must make three takeoffs and landings during the night as defined by the FAA. Otherwise they will lose that privilege until an instructor approves them again.

If pilots are going cross country, they will receive special training to effectively use navigation instruments and systems. Because pilots can’t see the skies, they have to rely on instruments when flying at night. They have to pay close attention to several areas. Maintaining altitude, detecting and avoiding obstacles or other aircraft, locating airports, and managing turbulence are some of the important aspects of night flying.

Is flying at night more dangerous than flying in the day?

Night time accidents are more fatal than day time accidents, but the bulk of them occur during the day. So, technically, based on fatalities, night time flying is more dangerous. But don’t let this rattle you. The tools today’s pilots use to navigate and ensure a safe flight should put you at ease. Pilots don’t need to see to navigate. Not to mention the skies are not busy at night and the wind is typically gentle.

Compare flying to a common activity like driving. Driving at night is incredibly dangerous – about half of traffic deaths happen at night. Chances are high that you drive at night all the time. Flying doesn’t have anywhere near this discrepancy between day and night, and it’s much safer than driving.

Is it harder to fly a plane at night?

Plane on lit up runway ready to take off

Pilots with less night time flying experience will find it difficult to fly at night at the start. But once they get acclimated to flying at night, it will become second nature. Experienced pilots see nighttime flying as routine. It does involve quite a few adjustments on the pilot’s part, but the pilot will be well-prepared thanks to his extensive night time training.

Here are a few things that pilots have to be wary of while night flying. By the time pilots fly passengers, they are fully aware of all of these hurdles thanks to their extensive training.

Circadian rhythms will be different, since pilots need to be awake throughout the night.

This may cause some fatigue as pilots start their training. But eventually a pilot’s rhythms will align with the nighttime schedule so they’ll have energy while flying.

They might mistake light patterns for objects or the horizon.

At night, when a pilot’s only stimulus is at times bright city lights or streetlights, the brain might interpret them as an object or a horizon. This of course won’t be an issue when they’re at 35,000 feet, outside of lights from other aircraft. But during takeoff and landing pilots must be aware of how their brain will interpret light.

Their eyes may take a while to adjust to the surroundings.

Flying at night can put heavy strain on a pilot’s eyes. Between the bright lights of the pilot’s navigation controls, the inside plane lighting, and the total darkness of the outside, that’s a lot of stimuli. When shifting between bright lights and darkness, it will take time for the eyes to acclimate.

Some people may find it more difficult to adjust while others will have no problem. In the pilot’s training they will already be fully acclimated to the volatile lighting.

Pilots often carry flashlights with a red lens instead of a white lens. This puts significantly less strain on the eyes and makes it easier to adjust from reading instruments to looking outside. If they use a white light flashlight in the cockpit, it can take 15 minutes or more to reacclimate their eyes after using it.

Pilots have to rely on their instruments.

While pilots can confirm what their instrument reads in the day by looking outside, that’s not true in the nighttime. Pilots have to suppress any “gut feeling” about what they are seeing and quell any doubt they have in their instruments. Flight navigation instruments are heavily tested and inspected before planes can take to the skies. So pilots have to trust that and rely on their instruments when they don’t have other ways to confirm what they are seeing.

Beyond circadian rhythms, adjusting to nighttime flying may be draining at first.

Between eye strain, relying fully on instruments, and adjusting sleep rhythms, a pilot may feel a lot of stress and strain when they start night flying training. It might even feel like an entirely different task compared to day flying. But with time, pilots will adapt. Just be prepared to have a few difficult flights to start before things start running smoothly.

Do pilots prefer flying at night?

night time view from a plane, looking at the horizon

It depends on the pilot. Some pilots may prefer flying at night because they are so used to the sleep schedule and they’ve done it so many times. On the other hand, some pilots are not even certified to fly at night because they pretty much exclusively fly during the day. Daytime flying is much more common than night flying.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages to night flying that we’ll go over below.

Night Flying Advantages

  • Less turbulence thanks to calm winds

The wind tends to calm down during the night. This reduces turbulence for passengers and makes flying a little easier for the pilot. Of course, as you have probably seen in movies, the “dark and stormy night” could happen. But this is quite rare. Before departing, pilots know exactly what the weather conditions will be. They’ll have a route planned out that avoids harsh weather to keep passengers safe. It’s possible that the weather could change, but in that case pilots communicate with air traffic control. They’ll either change their route in real time or carefully navigate through the rough weather.

  • Less air traffic

Most airplane traffic happens during the day, so the nights will be pretty quiet. Less air traffic means less objects on the radar to worry about which makes flying much easier. Also, air traffic control can plan out a quick route. They won’t have to account for the path of dozens of other planes.

  • Nice view of skylines and city lights

Ok, as a pilot, maybe you’re not paying so much attention to the scenery. You have to fly, after all. But truthfully, most of the navigation is done by instruments. So you’ll be able to enjoy the nighttime views every now and then.

Night Flying Risks

Starry sky from a plane
  • Can’t rely on visual cues

Unfortunately, the pilot can’t use techniques they use for day time flying. One of the most obvious is visual cues. During the day, they can see. But in the night, pilots need to rely on their navigation instruments and communication from air traffic control.

While this may seem risky at first, pilots will grow to trust the navigation systems as they gain more experience.

  • Less energetic because they have to stay awake all night

It may not seem like a big deal, but going from staying awake all day to staying awake all night is a huge change. Not only do pilots have to fly the plane, but it’s also important to stay alert and aware. Also, just to put passengers at ease, they don’t want to sound lethargic or tired over the intercoms. That wouldn’t be too reassuring as a passenger!

  • Weather radar can’t detect clouds – and neither can the pilot because it’s nighttime.

At night, it’s highly likely that pilots wander into thick clouds without knowing it. This isn’t dangerous, but it will result in some additional turbulence. Weather radar detects precipitation, not simply clouds. So that’s why the pilot may unexpectedly wander into some harsher weather. 

Do you remember those “we may experience some turbulence over the next 10 – 15 minutes” notices that pilots announce? That’s almost always due to adverse weather conditions (wind, rain, clouds, thunder) that can’t be avoided.

Is it good to fly at night?

Night time flights can be incredibly smooth and pleasant. There’s often less wind so you’ll have less turbulence. Also air traffic control will likely be able to map out a fast route since there’s not a lot of air traffic to avoid at night.

Airports are less busy at night so you’ll probably have a smooth time through airport security and boarding the plane. The same goes for arriving at your destination in the night time.

How do pilots fly planes at night?

Airplanes have several different navigation systems that pilots rely on to fly planes at night. It can get complicated, but in short, airplanes use radar navigation. So they are able to see objects on their radar and avoid them accordingly. They also have weather radar that detects precipitation. Airplanes use satellites to navigate (like GPS navigation for cars) to their destination.

Is turbulence worse at night?

No, turbulence is not worse at night. Barring any extreme weather, winds at night are quite gentle which means next to no turbulence! Night time flights can actually be the most pleasant time to fly. Pilots use weather radar, night or day, to detect harsh weather.

In most cases the worst weather will be avoided before the flight even starts. Air traffic control will map out a route that takes weather conditions into account. This way you can have a smooth and safe flight!

Is flying at night smoother?

Yes, the wind is typically much gentler so you’ll have a smooth ride to your destination. There’s also less air traffic, so you’ll probably get to your destination quickly.

Of course, if there is a storm, you might experience some turbulence. But the pilot will do their part to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Do planes fly lower at night?

No, planes do not fly lower at night. Commercial planes fly at a cruising altitude of around 35,000 feet whether it’s night or day. At night, the air is cooler and therefore more dense. Also, the lower you fly, the more dense the air (and vice versa). So flying at night is like flying lower in the skies. But planes don’t actually fly lower.

To learn more about how high planes fly, check out our complete guide.

How late can a plane take off?

Most major airports take off and land 24/7. This is especially likely at international airports because people fly across the country to places with at times dramatically different time zones. Smaller airports may open and close in the middle of the night to manage their budget or manage the noise level. Small airports are often closer to businesses or residential areas than major airports. 

Do planes fly after midnight?

Yes, especially those at major airports or international airports. But the vast majority of flights occur during the day. Planes won’t fly after midnight often simply because there’s not a lot of demand during those times, especially for domestic flights.

In my experience, it’s more common to arrive at your destination in the middle of the night than to leave in the middle of the night. For long international flights, overnight flights are routine.

What is the most dangerous part of flying?

Airplane landing during the night

The most dangerous part of flying is landing. According to a Boeing statistical study, landings accounted for over half of fatal accidents from 2010 to 2019. About 12 percent of fatal accidents occur during the takeoff and climb. But these accidents do not happen often. Manufacturers continue to improve on the takeoff and landing technology as well as the navigation systems to ensure people’s safety.

What is the safest time of day to fly?

The safest time of day to fly is the day. Night flying is not dangerous, but day time flying poses less risks. Pilots don’t have to solely rely on their equipment and they can use visual cues to make decisions in real time.

Pilots also don’t have to deal with potential fatigue from changing their circadian rhythms for a night flight. Granted, night flying pilots are trained to stay alert and aware throughout the night.

Do airlines fly 24/7?

Yes, most major airports and international airports fly 24/7. Due to changing time zones, international flights come in throughout the entire day and night. Even though airlines fly 24/7, they’re not busy for the full 24 hours. There are much less flights at night, which is the best time for airports to do any maintenance or upkeep on the planes.

Recap

Hopefully we answered all of your questions on flying at night. In short, it’s not dangerous because pilots go through a specific rigorous training to fly at night. They have to renew certification every 90 days to keep flying passengers legally.

If you have a fear of flying or any anxiety toward flying, don’t worry. Trust the pilot’s training and their advanced navigation instruments. Chances are incredibly slim that those fail resulting in a fatal accident.

If you can’t shake the fear of flying, flying during the day is slightly safer because pilots can see clearly.

But hopefully we helped quell some of your anxiety about flying and encouraged you to get ready to travel.

To learn more about airplanes, take a look at the links below.

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