Why this Australian refuses to sleep on planes


Meredith Mallory-Walker, 35, and Jack Walker, 34, from Sydney. Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker

While there are many Australians eager to hop on a plane now that travel is underway, there are also many dreading it.

Sydney man Jack Walker isn’t so worried about flying himself – it’s what happens when he falls asleep on the plane that worries and ’embarrasses’ him “.

The 34-year-old and his wife Meredith Mallory-Walker have big backpacking plans in South and Central America.

Travel played a huge role in their 12 years together, having first bonded over their love of different cultures and falling in love while traveling in Thailand.

But the one thing that continues to be a problem is Jack's chronic snoring.  Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker
But the one thing that continues to be a problem is Jack’s chronic snoring. Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker

However, Jack suffers from chronic snoring to the point where it has not only affected their travels but also their daily life.

Snoring occurs when a person’s airways have become narrowed, causing the air passing through them as we breathe to vibrate the soft tissues of the throat.

“It has made traveling difficult and more anxiety provoking as it affects both of our sleep,” Meredith, 35, told news.com.au.

“Especially with long-haul flights and trying to beat jet lag, which is already a difficult task, it feels like it takes us longer to master.

“Jack was afraid to fall asleep on a plane because his snoring affects other passengers and he feels bad and embarrassed.”

Meredith said she was a light sleeper, adding that it was difficult to wake up snoring most nights.

“It’s exhausting for both of us,” she said.

He tries not to sleep on a plane because it affects other passengers and he
He tries not to sleep on a plane because it affects other passengers and he “feels bad and embarrassed”. Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker

As the couple like to backpack, they have to avoid sharing rooms with other tourists because Jack is “too embarrassed”.

“We don’t sleep in dorms when we’re hiking. Jack is too embarrassed to affect others with his snoring,” Meredith said.

“We’d rather sleep in a private room than a dorm for that reason, but that just means it’s me who suffers, not others.”

She said one thing she did to minimize the sound was to wear earplugs.

“On the plane, Jack will put on a nasal dilator to minimize snoring (mainly for other passengers) and, where possible, we travel with our own pillows.”

The 12-year-old couple bonded over their love of travel and fell in love while on a trip to Thailand.  Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker
The 12-year-old couple bonded over their love of travel and fell in love while on a trip to Thailand. Picture / Jack and Meredith Walker

The science of snoring

According to Mute Snoring’s recent Sleep and Snoring Annual Report 2022, the majority of snorers (56%) are male.

The report found that 46% of those who snore often worry about waking someone else up, many give up staying in a room with friends on vacation or worry about falling asleep in a mode of transport, like a plane or a train. .

Australian sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo says there are several factors as to why snoring can get worse on vacation.

“The first is the change in environment. If we are lucky enough to travel away from home, we will likely experience a change in scenery and encounter different air qualities and different pollens which can impact the respiratory tract, thus increasing the chances of making the snoring worse,” Olivia told news.com.au.

“This is perhaps the biggest cause of holiday snoring that I would attribute to alcohol, which is generally consumed more during the holidays than during the working year.

“Alcohol causes the muscles around the airways to relax, making the snoring worse.”

Olivia said getting the best sleep while traveling depends on what you pack.

She encourages snorers to get a wedge pillow.

“Sleeping on your back exacerbates snoring, however, sleeping on your side, or at the very least having your face on your side, reduces it.”

She said to keep a sleep diary and fill it in when you have free time on your vacation.

“It’s a great opportunity to track changes in your sleep and snoring, versus risk factors that worsen both, like alcohol,” she said.

Like Jack, she also recommends that snorers pack a nasal dilator, adding that according to the report, 75% of snorers who used Mute Snoring’s nasal dilator snored less.

“And in my personal experience, it works. By gently opening your airways, you reduce the risk of snoring, wherever you sleep.”

Besides the obvious earplugs to help with sleeping well, she also recommended an eye mask.

“Adjusting to a new time zone can throw off your circadian rhythms. To help you adjust, be sure to go outside during the day and at night, put on an eye mask to block out all light.”

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