Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, this month launched a program to improve sleep quality on its long-haul flights.

Since July 2012, the airline has been working closely with a panel of sleep experts from the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology (ACPN) in Abu Dhabi to research ways to enhance sleep in flight.

The Centre is staffed by American Board-certified aviation psychiatrists and neurologists and is renowned for its work in the field of aviation health.

Etihad Airways has received expert guidance from the ACPN on sleep hygiene and on-board well-being and has developed comprehensive guidelines for sleep in flight, created for the airline’s guests as a result of clinical studies carried out by the ACPN on patients experiencing effects related to long-haul flying.

Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer of Etihad Airways, says in a release: “We understand that sleep is an important requirement for our guests, many of whom fly multiple journeys with us each year….The research we have carried out in collaboration with the experts at the ACPN will allow us to significantly improve the cabin environment for our guests and to provide targeted investment in our on-board experience for tangible customer benefit.”

Dr Yousef Abou Allaban, managing director of the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology, says, “What is encouraging is that there is an airline placing tremendous importance and resources into the study of sleep on long distance flights. Etihad Airways approached us with the clear understanding that sleep is not just a luxury, but a physical necessity which affects every traveller on every level.”

A core part of Etihad Airways’ sleep initiative is the introduction of luxury all-natural bedding by COCO-MAT in Diamond First Class. Athens-based COCO-MAT has designed an exclusive multi-layered sleep system mattress for the Diamond First Class suites.

The mattress is made from extracts of the Hevea tree, an alternative to standard petroleum-based foams. This natural rubber is known for its elasticity and is perforated with tiny holes to create a perfect ventilation system, enabling the material to breathe and regulate body temperature. The new bedding set features a 100% cotton fitted sheet and a large down feather duvet and pillow.

The airline aims to enhance the sleep experience by focusing on the senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. Fine cotton Heather Grey sleepsuits, unique pillow mist, pulse point oil, and a selection of Bergamote 22 toiletries by New York brand, Le Labo, now feature as part of its First Class sleep amenities. High quality comforters, blankets, and pillows are provided in Pearl Business Class and Coral Economy Class, along with unique Sougha amenity kits, inspired by traditional Emirati artisanal designs in all classes.

To minimize the effect of ambient sounds, Etihad Airways provides noise cancellation headphones in all three classes. Plus, to counteract harsh light, all cabins feature advanced mood-lighting systems.

Home comforts such as a sleep-time beverage service including hot chocolate and herbal teas are to be offered in all three classes. In Diamond First Class, sleep-inducing chamomile tea and a range of malt drinks will be added to the airline’s already extensive drinks selection as part of the sleep experience.