10 Tips How To Sleep On A Plane
Here I am after a 12 hours flight to New Zealand….
Sleeping on a plane is one of my toughest challenges when travelling. I am just rubbish at it.
And the more I try, the more likely it is, that I won’t get any sleep at all. Not enough legroom. People climbing over you. Noise from movies and video games and screaming children and the list goes on.
The problem is, not being able to fall asleep on a plane can make or break the first few days of your trip. If it’s a long flight, sleeping for even a few hours is essential to fighting jet lag and starting your trip fresh and energized.
I have put together these 10 tips that should help you arrive refreshed.
Select The Right Seat
Chose a window seat. This way you won’t be bothered by the comings and goings of your seat neighbor. You can cozy up next to the window. And you control the window shade.
Don’t book a seat near the busy areas, bathrooms and flight attendant areas.
Many people prefer aisle seats because they can stretch their legs and go to the washroom easier. But this also means that the passenger and flight attendants walking by might disturb you.
Avoid bulkhead and exit row seats. They have more leg-room but the seats are narrower, the armrests do not raise and most seats don’t recline. Pushing your seat back is important because it relieves pressure on your lower back. That makes it easier to fall asleep.
Don’t cross your legs as this will reduce the blood circulation in your legs.
Pick a seat at the back of the plane as chances are higher to have an empty seat next to you. (but not so close to the washrooms). Studies show that most passengers prefer seats in the first rows as this will allow them to disembark the airplane quicker after landing.
Buy some extra bottles of water after security check and bring them on board. Flight attendants rarely serve enough to drink. Besides, they may not be serving when you’re thirsty.
I always ignore this advice but – DON’T drink alcohol on the plane as it dehydrates you. It might help you fall asleep faster, but the quality of your rest is poor and you’ll wake up a few hours later often feeling even more tired than before.
Of course, you’ll want to avoid caffeine as well. Try herbal teas instead.
It’s best to skip the plane food at all and to rather have a light, healthy meal at the airport before you depart. And hey, the food in the plane isn’t that great anyhow, so what do you miss?
Avoid anything heavy or fatty. When you eat a big (or high-fat) food, your heart needs to work harder to pump more blood to your stomach and intestines.
Think fruits, vegetables, yogurt and nuts. You should not eat within two hours of the time you want to fall asleep.
Bring Ear Plugs And Eye Mask
Some airlines provide you with both, but you will feel more comfortable having your own.
The darkness will help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, especially if fellow passengers open their window shades or use the overhead reading lights. The mask also serves as a “Do Not Disturb” sign that will dissuade chatty neighbors and let flight attendants know not to wake you.
Ear plugs will reduce the noise from chatting passengers, screaming children and engine sounds. Alternatively you can use noise-cancelling headphones. Either listen to some relaxation sounds or just active the white-noise app on your phone. Some fliers even insert earplugs and cover them with headphones for two layers of defense.
Use A Pillow And Blanket
Many airlines either don’t provide blankets at all or just a very thin one. I really hate those ones.
Bring your own light weight blanket.
A blanket will keep you warm when temperatures drop on board. Buckle your seat belt over your blanket. If there’s turbulence, the flight attendant won’t need to wake you up to check that you’re secured.
Get a good pillow. There are many different versions out there. Choose what works best for you. Travelling light, it makes more sense to get an inflatable one with some extra neck support. I like the MLVOC Inflatable Neck Pillow with Ear Plugs, Eye Mask and Drawstring Bag.
As soon as you leave your departure city, act as if you’re already in the time zone of your destination.
The sooner you can start acclimating to your new destination, the better off you’ll be once you actually arrive.
Researches suggest, if you’re traveling east on an overnight flight, you should avoid light exposure and try to sleep during the first half of the flight. If you are going west, avoid light exposure during the second half of your flight to initiate a delay in your circadian rhythm.
Loose fitting sweatpants, hoodies or even pyjamas are the best (compression stockings and leggings are also good). As long as the material stretches, it’s fine. Wearing loose clothing will help you drift off and also prevent against deep vein thrombosis which occurs when your blood flow is restricted.
You’ll also want to bring extra layers on board, as the temperature in flight can shift rapidly from too hot to too cold. Either extreme will hamper your sleep. I also always bring a scarf or pashmina with me.
Keep your feet warm. Warm socks or slippers are a good choice.
The light from the screens keeps your brain awake by suppressing the Melatonin release.
Don’t watch TV, check your mobile or read books on your tablet. Reading is a good idea to get sleepy, but read an actual book instead.
Stop Thinking About Falling Asleep
Something I just know too well. If you obsess over falling asleep, you won’t be able to. The added pressure will wind up keeping you awake. Tell yourself you’re just relaxing, and sleep will come easier than if you try to force it.
If everything else fails, try some sleep aid. I am not referring to chemical sleep medication. Try some lavender oil. A study found breathing it in before and during sleep decreases blood pressure and encourages deeper slumber. Spray some over your pillow, blanket and sleeping mask.
I am also a big fan of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray 75ml.