• Survey found sleep to be most popular in-flight activity
  • Watching movies is also popular
  • Not everyone can switch off

What do you do when you get on an airplane? Think? Read? Talk? We're going to take a reasonably informed punt and guess that the majority of you snuggle into your reasonably comfy chairs and then drift off into a magical world of dreams.

Snoozing, catnapping, dozing, call it what you want, the number one activity on board an airplane is sleeping. Don't just take our word for it, as a new survey from the Airline Passenger Experience Foundation (APEX) has found that nothing quite beats catching 40 winks when up in the air.

Are you surprised? We aren't. While the flying experience has certainly changed markedly over the years and is better than ever, more often than not, when it comes to holidays, we're likely to fly out really early in the morning and similarly, really late on the way back.

Consequently, we are a tad bit sluggish in the wee small hours of the morning, courtesy of a decided lack of sleep the night before (too much excitement leaving us feeling somewhat giddy), and equally, we're rather listless following a full day of tourist activity.

Interestingly, sleep is closely followed by watching in-flight movies as the most popular activity to engage in when flying, according to APEX's poll. We may hanker for a cheeky nap, but for one reason or another, we're unable to settle. In no mood to concentrate or tax the brain with conversation, movies offer us a great alternative to slumber because they're basically passive.

Perfection then is the ability to just slouch and let the movie take us away into another world. It's relaxing, it passes the time and it requires very little effort. Sometimes, when we're flying, that's all we want – a bit of downtime, solitude even, a desire not to be disturbed. Even though we're sitting among other passengers, it's about having time to ourselves.

Part of this tendency to sleep or kick back with a movie may also have something to do with the fact that a lot of us are rather stressed ahead of flying, so not only is there a craving to chill, but a necessity too.

So what has us feeling anxious? APEX states that the biggest concern for men is departing on time, while for women it's actually getting to the airport on time. Other worries include ensuring that luggage has been packed properly, which is a particular bugbear for men. They can't shake it.

It's a curious thing, the pre-airplane rush, the uncertainty of having all the right documents, the agitation of never being quite confident that all door and windows are locked, alarm set. We don't get really react in such a manner with cars or trains ... do we? We'd be keen to find out your stories. In the meantime, all this talk of sleep has us feeling weary. Time for a siesta.