Rest Up! Get Better (Or Any) Sleep On A Plane3 min read
Comfort on a plane? Most people would say that’s just not possible unless you shell out a ton of extra cash on first class seats.
But it is actually possible! It just takes a little bit of planning, effort and creativity.
Choose your flight carefully
If it’s possible, choose a flight that matches your normal sleep rhythm. For most people, that would mean booking a red eye or overnight flight. This can help you sleep since your body is already accustomed to sleeping during those hours.
You should also take the plane’s itinerary into consideration. You’ll be able to get more sleep on a nonstop flight. But if one isn’t available, choose a flight with the longest single leg – this will give you an opportunity for more uninterrupted shuteye.
Be picky about your seat
The last row of seats is close to the bathroom, which means people coming and going, the sound of flushing and the door banging open and shut. You won’t get much sleep here. You might also want to avoid the seats in the exit row (they often don’t recline) and the bulkhead row (since the armrests can’t be raised). All of these distractions and uncomfortable features could cause you to miss out on your beauty rest during the flight.
Many people like to sit in the window seats because they can lean against the cabin wall to sleep. In addition, if you’re sitting in a window seat, you’re less likely to be awakened by crew members and other passengers walking down the aisle.
You might want to think about which side of the bed you sleep on when picking your seat. You might sleep more comfortably if you chose a seat that emulates the side of the bed you typically sleep on. And, by all means, recline your seat and don’t feel bad about it.
If you have frequent flier miles for long international flights and you can afford to book a lie-flat seat in first or business class – go for it!
You can also use SeatGuru or Routehappy – these websites detail the good and bad of every seat on every plane, complete with reviews from previous fliers.
Dress and accessorize appropriately
Dress in light, loose layers, shoes that easily slip on and off, and comfortable socks. You can take off and put on layers if you’re too hot or cold and you won’t feel uncomfortable or restricted in your clothing while trying to sleep.
High-quality headphones will be worth their price tag when they drown out any noise on your plane. You should also try to create a playlist of soothing, sleep-inducing tunes – getting startled awake by a loud rock song will cancel out all of the other prep work you did to get sleep on your flight. If you need darkness for quality sleep, you’ll want to bring a facemask as well.
Prepare your body for rest
You should avoid sugar and caffeine for the obvious reason that they’ll keep you wide awake on your flight. You’ll also want to avoid drinking any kind of alcohol before or during your flight – alcohol combined with the plane’s dry air can cause you to become dehydrated and make waking up miserable.
Try staying hydrated during the day. This will help you avoid eating or drinking anything in flight. Additionally, assuming you take care of business before settling down for your nap, you won’t need to get up for a bathroom break during the flight.
Some people swear by taking sleeping aids before their flight, but you’ll need to discuss this option with your doctor first. A more natural alternative is drinking Dreamwater half an hour before your flight – its natural ingredients claim to reduce anxiety and promote sleep (it contains melatonin).
Photo from Colin Andersen via Getty Images.