How can I sleep through this flight?
Feeling scrunched, smushed, squeezed for endless hours? Escalating irritability, tension, and tiredness?
A long-haul flight combined with no sleep, makes a miserable post–travel day and if that day is your vacation, then you just wasted a great day in a great destination.
For business travel, time is money. When we step off the plane, it’s time for work and this means feeling refreshed and energized for the day ahead. In other words, we need to feel human and that is a challenge after a long flight, especially a red eye.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO SLEEP ON A PLANE?
You may not sleep 8 hours or even 6 hours, but a few hours of shut-eye will make your day more manageable. If you don’t believe me, then you have nothing to lose to try any combo of these tips.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP ON AN AIRPLANE
Having the right essentials can turn crampness into comfort. You are an avid traveler, so I hope you make the flying experience as enjoyable as possible, which includes checking in your luggage. Use your valuable two carry-on items to have the necessities for the door-to-door trip. Leave the rest for the professionals to get to your destination!
Bring a Toddler Pillow. Yep that’s right!
These 14×19 inch pillows are the perfect size for an airplane and they pack well in any carry-on suit case.
This pillow comes with one pillow case. Purchase a few extra cases to have a clean case on the return trip.
For extended flights more than 6 hours, before boarding, use the airlines lounge or bathroom to change into more comfortable clothes that you have packed in your carry-on. I usually wear loose-fitting yoga pants or jogging pants, a t-shirt and sweater, and flip flops. Layering is important as every plane will have a slightly different temperature.
If the airline lounge has showers, a quick shower will refresh and help you to relax. The airline lounge showers are very nice and I have always found them to be incredibly clean, private and quiet. If you don’t see a hairdryer, simply ask the attendant – they usually have them in a closet.
You may want to carry with you a pair of pre-fitted compression socks. It’s natural for your blood circulation to slow, especially on long flights, often causing your feet and ankles to swell. Some of you will love these socks, others will hate them. Personally, I can’t sleep with socks, so I haven’t used compression socks much.
Please, if your feet or shoes have an aroma, loosen the laces and please keep them on. There are not many options to overcome smells on an airplane, so courtesy goes a long way!
GET COMFORTABLE IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE AIRPLANE SEAT
The most important decision is selecting the seat. If you sleep on the right-side of the bed, then select a seat on the right side of the plane and vice versa.
Seat Guru has valuable seat information with detailed warnings for certain seats which may have a slightly narrower seat, less recline, near a bathroom, and more.
It’s likely you have a carry-on bag stuffed under the seat in front of you. To get more comfortable before you doze off, tuck your bag under your legs near to your seat. This frees up the space to stretch your legs and twinkle your toes.
Remove contacts. Wear your glasses.
Your eyes will thank you!
For any long-haul flights, you need to treat your body well. If you have the means, go business class, whether that is with money, upgrade certificates or using your miles.
If you are thinking to invest in the business class fare, before booking learn more about the aircraft and if it is equipped with chairs that recline to a flat bed. You can find out if the plane has beds with the icon below circled in red or also on Seat Guru.
SLEEPING THROUGH ANNOYANCES
Gotta chatty neighbor? A crying baby onboard? Never ending flight announcements? A snorer? No one enjoys it and it’s out of your control. No point to make grunts, complaints and faces to silence the offenders. You want to be in as much control as possible, so come prepared for this likely event!
One of the best products I use are silicon earplugs. You can find them in any pharmacy.
Unlike the foam plugs, the silicon plugs can be shaped and molded to fit snuggly in your ears. These plugs reduce the noise by up to 22 decibels, which blocks out snorers, announcements and most everything else!
My only complaint is strands of hair get stuck in the silicon. If your hair is long, pull it up into a pony tail.
Seated near a bathroom, kitchen area or a seatmate using a computer? Light is distracting to your sleep. Invest in an eye mask that is dark, has plenty of coverage and a secure fit to keep from rolling up or down.
This is the mask that I use. It is cupped to keep your eyelashes from touching the mask, if that annoys you, like it does me!
Also, wear a baseball cap; just tip it down over your face to cover your eyes. Using the mask or the cap provides a sense of privacy, helping your mind rest to fall asleep.
When your sleeping with a blanket, make sure your seat belt is latched over your blanket, not under. If there is any turbulence and the pilot signals seat belts, the attendants won’t wake you if the belt is visible to them.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
At this point, you may be thinking these tips are not enough for me to fall asleep on an airplane. You may just want to close your eyes and imagine yourself on a beach.
Or as a last resort, let’s talk about sleeping aids – the medicated type. I can’t recommend if sleeping pills are safe for you. This is your decision after you talk to with a healthcare provider.
Set Rules! Mine are:
1. Flight is six or more hours.
2. No alcohol.
3. Take a half dose, then monitor.
Another option is to use an over-the-counter medication.
I’ve talked with a Sleep Doctor and he said it takes over ten hours for your body to fully release all effects of these pills, so if you don’t mind the post-flight drowsiness then this may be an option for you.
I’ve tried a few types of Herbal sleep aids and they did help. There are many options at a Vitamin & Health store, just try a few at home to see what brand works best.
Lastly, I have seen many travelers drink their way to sleep. It never works and you wake up feeling crappy.
REJUVENATE WHEN WAKING UP ON AN AIRPLANE
I haven’t met anyone who woke up after a long flight feeling completely refreshed. If you are one of these people, I would love to find out your secrets!
Most of us feel cruddy.
Don’t be shy to call the Flight Attendant for a cup of Joe.
Or if you are seated in the aisle, it’s good to stretch your legs and walk to the galley to get coffee.
There is no rule that you have to wait for the beverage service. However, when they do reach my row, I ask for 2 cups!
If you have a connection and some extra time, drop by the airline lounge to take a shower, put on fresh clothes and brush your teeth. I usually do this on most international connections. My goal is always be as clean as possible and feeling fresh. This boosts my attitude and your attitude goes along way when you travel.
If you don’t have a connection, at minimum, simply brushing your teeth, washing your face and refreshing your deodorant will help you feel human and get on a good start in your destination.
Lastly, hit a Duty Free Shop for a fragrance spritz and the café for another tall cup of Joe!
There are things you can control while on an airplane, like noise (earplugs), light (eye mask) and temperature (blanket). There are things you can’t control, like space, which is when you need to get creative with the space you have and make the most of it!
Good luck on your next flight! I hope you can get a little shut-eye!