Sleeping on a plane seems like an impossible thing for many people. There’s not enough room for your legs, you’re surrounded by constant noise, maybe some crying babies, and of course, the sunlight from every neighboring window to your seat. These conditions make sleeping such a struggle; so much, that many simply give up on the idea.
However, things don’t have to be that way. Soon enough, the airlines will open again and we’ll be allowed to travel. So, here are some tips you can learn in advance and utilize on your next flight. Long story short, you’ll be sleeping like a baby, even on a plane!
How To Prepare Before The Flight?
Before you actually get on board and consider spending some time in the land of Nod, before landing, there are some things you can take care of even before the flight. It never hurts to be prepared in advance, so here’s what you can do;
Book A Seat Next To The Window
It may seem like a silly thing to do, to book a window seat. You’ll be sitting next to the source of all the light in your seat, and the light from the neighboring windows. However, a window seat has its perks.
First of all, by sitting next to the window, you won’t be disturbed by drink trolleys, other people trying to get to the bathroom and general noise and bustle going on around you. You’ll also be able to get more comfortable, make some room to rest your head and arms and not to mention, when not sleeping, you’ll be enjoying a wonderful view through the window.
Also, if you don’t mind spending an extra buck or two, try flying business class, since you’ll be getting extra seat and legroom than in the economy class.
Remember that every carry-on you bring to the flight will probably end up under your feet. It is always recommended to pack wisely and pack lightly, as to not limit your space and legroom. Try to fit the essential stuff in one bag which you’ll place in the overhead compartment.
The things you will need at hand try to place in a smaller bag that you’ll be able to place anywhere around your seat, without minimizing room and space.
Try to utilize the seat pockets, but don’t overdo it. Make sure to bear in mind the weight and size of your personal belongings, as to not break the rules and exceed the weight limitations.
We’ve all seen celebrities dressing for their flights as if they’re attending a runway show or fashion week. You don’t really need to pay attention to the ‘airport fashion’ since you’re the one going on a long flight, not those celebrities. So, make sure to dress as comfortably as possible.
Prepare The Sleep Essentials
To fall asleep on the plane, you will need some sleeping essentials. We’re talking about blankets, a pillow, and an eye mask. In some extreme cases, you might also need a neck pillow, but you’ll need to bring the inflatable one (as you cannot simply wear a neck pillow around the airport and the plane). You can also bring your earplugs to cancel out the constant noise and get some peace and quiet.
Make sure to also bring your over-the-counter sleep medications (which are legal and pass the security check-ups). Before the flight, make sure to also check if you can bring some melatonin supplements, which can also help with sleep.
You can take a melatonin pill before the flight as well, but don’t overdo it as you may feel drowsy and sleepy even before everything is set.
Skip The Caffeine
Try not to drink coffee before the actual flight. Caffeine is a stimulant and it will make you feel more alert and wakeful. This way, you won’t be able to fall asleep on the plane, which might make you even irritable and stressed out. Instead, try to have a cup of herbal tea or any other drink that has a calming effect.
Have Some Fruits
It is well known that what you eat can affect your sleep quality. So, before the flight try to have some fruits that are rich in magnesium and amino acids like tryptophan. These compounds promote sleep and increase sleep quality due to natural melatonin that they contain or that they can convert. Such fruits include bananas, cherries, avocado, watermelon, figs, etc.
How To Sleep During The Flight?
Stay Away From the Free Alcohol
You may be tempted to have a drink during the flight. And, even though a drink can help you calm down a bit if you’re stress about flying, it will surely disrupt your plans for sleeping. It will make you more dehydrated, stressed, irritated, and unable to induce sleep, even with all the other methods you’ve done right. Alcohol will compromise your sleep, so try to ask for a cup of tea instead.
Warning: Don’t mix melatonin with alcohol, check this post to know more details.
Stay Away From Screens
Some screen time during the flight can help the time pass, and might even make you feel sleepy. However, too much screen time can have the contrary effect, especially if the content you’re being exposed to is too engaging. Screens are known to emit blue light, which reduces melatonin production and release, making you more alert and wakeful.
So, instead of watching a movie or playing games on your phone or tablet, try listening to some relaxing and soothing music, which will lull you into sleep.
Prepare Your Sleep Essentials
Make sure that your blanket, pillow, earplugs, and eye mask are all close to you. Inflate the neck pillow, adjust the seat, and generally prepare even before the takeoff. This way when you become sleepy, you can just cover yourself with a blanket and doze off. You won’t spend unnecessary time getting everything into place, during which you can actually lose your sleepiness and get it disturbed.
Make sure to adjust the window shades and let the flight attendant know that you’ll be sleeping, so you won’t be disturbed or woken up. Also, try to buckle your seatbelt over the blanket, so the flight attendant can see it clearly. This way, in cases of turbulence, the flight attendant won’t wake you up to check for the belt.
Also Read: Is It Good to Sleep With an Eye Mask?
Try Some Breathing Exercises
If you find it difficult to fall asleep, even after all the preparation, you can always try some mindful breathing exercises. By inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply, you will fill your lungs and body with enough oxygen, which has a calming and relaxing effect. You will see how your body, muscles, and joints relax and release all the tension and stress. So, even though you’re on a plane, in an uncomfortable seat, you’ll feel as if you’re in your own, cozy bed.
Also Read: 9 Fastest Ways to force yourself to Sleep
Try To Read Something Boring
Bring a book with you, that is not too engaging, and rather boring; you know, that one book we all have. Make sure that the content of the book is kind of interesting, but still a bit dry and not too challenging. Before you’re ready for sleep, make sure to read the book and in several minutes, you’ll feel that you’re losing focus, concentration and that you’re actually sleepy.
How To Minimize Jet Lag
Now that you’re off the plane and finally on the ground, you have to deal with one major issue; jet lag. Here are some additional tips on how you can minimize jet lag and get your sleep-wake cycle back to normal.
- Adjust Your Bedtime Before The Flight – by adjusting your bedtime an hour or two days before the actual flight, you’ll be also adjusting your sleep pattern and minimize jet lag. This might also help you fall asleep easier during the flight, so it’s a win-win situation.
- Stay Hydrated – try to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the flight. Staying hydrated can help you with sleep quality and can decrease the effects of jet lag. Dehydration is known to be a predisposing cause of jet lag, as flight attendants and pilots all over the world would agree.
- Try To Stay Active – between sleep, try to move around the plane if you can; for example, go to the bathroom and try to stretch while there. If there is a stopover for a few hours, try to go for a longer walk and make sure to stretch your legs. During stretching, make sure to also focus on your lower back, neck, and shoulders. This will help you feel more energized and ready to combat the time zone difference and general flight fatigue.
- Rest After The Flight – you might be tempted to be out and about after you’ve arrived at your destination. But, try to actually use the first day as a time to get some proper sleep and rest. This way your body will adjust to the new time zone, recharge and you’ll be ready for your adventure the very next day.
Sleeping on the plane can be a nightmare for some people. There is always some noise, bustle, and people moving around. Therefore, try to mentally prepare for all the challenges and try not to stress over the fact that you might not get some sleep at all.
Of course, try out our recommendations and see if they work for you. We most certainly hope that your next flight is also a sweet flight to the land of Nod.