Mastering Sleep on a Plane: Essential Tips and Accessories
Taste & Travel3 Minutes Read

Mastering Sleep on a Plane: Essential Tips and Accessories

May 23, 2024 Share

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Tired of being wide awake during your long haul flights? Here is everything you can do to fall asleep on a plane.

Ah, the joys of air travel. There’s the thrill of adventure, the anticipation of new destinations, and, of course, the relentless struggle to catch some shut-eye at 35,000 feet. For many, falling asleep on a plane feels like an insurmountable challenge. But with the right preparation, accessories, and strategies, you can transform your in-flight snooze from a nightmare into a dream. Here’s your ultimate guide to help you fall asleep on a plane.

Image courtesy of Kevin Andre

Pre-Flight Preparation

A good night’s sleep on a plane isn’t just about dimming the lights. To truly arrive refreshed, consider these pre-flight strategies:

Match Flight and Sleep: Red-eye flights that align with your natural sleep cycle can be your best friend. Minimise disruptions by opting for direct flights whenever possible.

Seat Yourself for Slumber: Window seats offer a built-in headrest (the window itself!), privacy from aisle traffic,and control over the window shade. Avoid high-traffic areas like restrooms and galleys. If extra legroom is available, it’s definitely worth considering for ultimate comfort.

Adjust Your Body Clock: A few days before departure, gradually shift your sleep schedule to match your destination’s time zone. This helps your body adjust for a smoother in-flight slumber.

Pack for Restful Skies: Bring a travel pillow that suits your sleep style, a cozy blanket to ward off airplane chills,and an eye mask to block out light. Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones can minimize distractions, and loose,breathable clothing ensures maximum comfort throughout the flight.

By planning ahead and packing smart, you can transform your airplane seat into a sleep sanctuary, arriving at your destination well-rested and ready to explore.

Image courtesy of Josh Sukoff

On the Plane

Once you’re on the plane, creating a sleep-conducive environment and following some best practices is crucial for falling asleep.

Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment: If possible, recline your seat to a comfortable angle; even a slight recline can make a significant difference. Using a footrest to elevate your feet can also reduce strain on your lower back, and an inflatable footrest can work wonders in this regard.

Manage Light and Noise: Wear an eye mask and use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to block out disturbances. The darker and quieter the environment, the better your chances of falling asleep.

Stay Hydrated: Drink water regularly. However, avoid excessive consumption to minimise restroom trips, as dehydration can make you feel worse.

Avoid Stimulants and Alcohol: These can interfere with sleep quality. Instead, stick to water or herbal tea.

Practise Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing exercises can help you relax, and using meditation apps or techniques to calm your mind, even for a few minutes, can make a big difference.

Consider Sleep Aids

Considering sleep aids might be helpful for some. Natural supplements like melatonin can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, but consult your doctor before using any sleep aids. If you have severe sleep issues, a doctor may prescribe sleep medication specifically for travel.

Essential Accessories

Bringing the right accessories can significantly improve your in-flight sleep experience. Here are some of our favourites.

Travel Pillow: A travel pillow, whether it’s a U-shaped neck pillow, an inflatable pillow, or a convertible pillow that supports the neck, back, or head, provides essential support when trying to fall asleep.

Blanket: A travel blanket, either lightweight and compact or a wearable blanket with sleeves, can keep you warm and comfortable.

Eye Mask: An eye mask, particularly a contoured or weighted one, blocks out light without putting pressure on your eyes, making it a lot easier to fall asleep.

Earplugs and Noise-Cancelling Headphones: Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones reduce ambient noise and can play soothing music or white noise.

Footrest: A footrest, either inflatable or a portable footrest hammock that attaches to the seat in front, supports your legs for added comfort.

Compression Socks: Compression socks improve circulation and reduce swelling in your legs.

Comfortable Clothing: Comfortable clothing, such as compression leggings or pants and layered clothing, helps you adapt to varying cabin temperatures.

Personal Hygiene Kit: A personal hygiene kit with essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, and moisturiser allows you to freshen up before sleep.

Supplements and Pills

If you need extra help falling asleep, consider supplements and pills.

Melatonin: A natural hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and is typically taken 30-60 minutes before you plan to sleep.

Herbal Supplements: Herbal supplements like valerian root, chamomile (often taken as tea or in supplement form), and lavender (available as an essential oil or in capsules) promote relaxation and sleep.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids: Over-the-counter sleep aids such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom) are antihistamines with sedative properties used for short-term sleep assistance.

Prescription Sleep Medications: Prescription sleep medications like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and temazepam (Restoril) are also options for treating insomnia.

Tips for Using Sleep Aids and Supplements

Consult a Doctor: Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements or medications to help you fall asleep.

Trial Before Travel: Test any new sleep aid or supplement at home before your trip.

Follow Dosage Instructions: Follow dosage instructions carefully.

Consider Timing: Take sleep aids at a time that aligns with your desired sleep schedule.

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