How to Sleep On A Plane
“Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with long uncomfortable flights and losing your luggage.” Regina Nadelson
I hate hate hate people who can sleep on planes.
I’ve always been a terrible sleeper. During the day I’ve been the tired friend, mother, partner, student, employee who is drinking coffee to stay awake. At night I’m someone who makes ridiculous sleep deprived decisions, does crazy internet shopping, sends weird incoherent emails, googles everything, signs up for online classes and watches
reruns of shows that I would never watch when they were on. Once I cut bangs. Another time i joined an online dating site while i was dating someone. Now I write blogs like this one.
A plane just makes it worse for me.
Obviously the best way to sleep on a plane is to travel in first class, followed by business class, three seats together in coach, two seats together in coach or an empty middle seat. New Zealand Air has “couch,” three coach seats for two people.
The next choice is the window seat. It is definitely better for sleeping. But I don’t like feeling locked in so I have to take the aisle.
Make some kind of footrest and take your shoes off. Use your carry on luggage if you need to. It is helpful to have your feet raised.
Come prepared. Bring something to block out the noise – ear plugs that you buy in the airport or toilet paper will suffice in a pinch. Noise canceling headphones are a good investment if you fly a lot. While you still have Wi-Fi, and before you put your phone on airplane mode, download a few relaxing songs and apps. Sleep Machine and Ambi Science Pure Sleep are recommended apps. Anything that can calm down your brainwaves will work.
Bring an eye mask to block out the light. Yes it will mess up your hair but the chances of looking great after a twelve-hour flight are not good anyway.
The neck pillow is controversial. There are certain people who don’t like to look dorky in an airport carrying around a blow up neck pillow. I get that. But it is worse to wake up with a creak in your neck and you will sleep better if your head is not rolling around.
Keep warm. Bring extra socks, a blanket, a snuggly or a shawl. Airlines like to freeze you out and if you should fall asleep, you will wake up if you are cold.
Wear something comfortable on the plane. Or if you are a person who likes to look cute in airports (single) bring something comfortable to change into. I do that as soon as I get on the plane. Sweats and cuddly socks are always in my carry on for flights over six hours. It is not as easy as you think to change in those tiny bathrooms. I don’t recommend tight jeans.
Eat something before you fly so you are full but not bloated. They say healthy soup, kale and salmon are good for this. But they say that those foods are good for everything. You can not sleep if you are hungry. You definitely don’t need those salty snacks that make you feel bloated.
It helps if you schedule flights when you are actually tired. An early morning flight without coffee is good and if you stay up late the night before packing, you have a chance of falling into an exhausted sleep. (a trick my son uses)
Make sure to fasten your seatbelt over your blanket. Stewardesses who may never talk to you otherwise will wake you up for this. Then try to get back to sleep.
Everyone should smell neutral on a plane. Why do I even have to include this? Are their cultures, religions or countries that don’t believe in showering before flying? I don’t think so. Do we really need to be smelling your perfume from three rows behind? I am allergic to perfume so it is a problem for me.
Many people love to drink alcohol on planes to relax. It does help at first but then you wake up with low blood sugar, have bad jet lag and sometimes a hangover. It’s a personal choice.
I’m not sure if you are supposed to advocate pharmaceuticals in a blog. As a non sleeper I have tried everything. A rule of thumb is do not take anything that puts you out until the plane is in the air for a bit – especially if you are a snorer or a drooler. I think snorers and droolers should not fall asleep in a public place anyway. One time there was a problem with the plane and we had to get off after everyone was seated. They had to wheel off a famous person snoring loudly with drool all over her face. It was frightening. I live in fear that total strangers will see me like that. I never take anything strong enough to put me out.
Homeopathics and prescription medications that you have taken before can be useful. I use melatonin and valerian root, Melatonin sometimes gives you bad dreams so make sure you have taken it before. I had to fly two weeks after 9/11. The few people on the plane, stewardesses and pilots all looked terrified. I took ativan. It helped. I took it for a few years every time I flew after that. Now I meditate and only take it on long flights to help me sleep. I’ve tried Nyquil, Tylenol PM, Sleepy Time tea, warm milk, downloaded weird guided meditations, taken strange things from the health food store, a sleep remedy from a Mexican pharmacy and I once took something that was only legal in Canada. None of that works for me but feel free to try them.
The best thing is to do whatever it is that alleviates stress for you and relax. That will help you sleep.
“Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up smoking”.