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Sleeping on planes

By Anonymous August 10, 2009 - 11:41am
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Does anyone have any good ideas about getting a 'restful' sleep on airplanes? I have a couple of long, overnight flights coming up and am not really good at public sleeping? And I find I either can't sleep or am so drugged up from medication, I can barely think.

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EmpowHER Guest

i suggest a sleep mask and soft music on headphones. Good luck!

August 20, 2009 - 3:34pm

Ditto to Susan's recommendations to drink water, avoid the pre-packed airline meals and get out of your seat to stretch your legs. Eat fresh and your body will thank you. I also pack my own snacks (you just need to comply with current restrictions against unwrapped foods and opened containers).

Upon arrival at the destination, I try to retire at the time I ordinarily would - just on local time (not home time). For example, although I find it relatively easy to snooze on a trans-oceanic flight, when I get to my final destination, I don't nap. Instead, I'll try to get my body adjusted for the time as immediately as possible by staying up until the time of night I would ordinarily go to bed. This works for me.

August 19, 2009 - 4:51pm

In addition to the great suggestions above, I've found it helpful to bring my own mini-pillow and light blanket from home. I also bring some thick, comfy socks so I can take off my shoes. Hope you have a pleasant flight!

August 19, 2009 - 2:23pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Great question, thank you!

I take a few over-night flights every year (along with three preschoolers!) and I don't believe I have ever slept on a plane, unless I'm in business/first class, where I can really stretch out.

But mostly I travel coach, and I don't plan on sleeping. I rarely even try, because I know how I work and trying is more frustrating than not sleeping at all.

To try to sleep on a plane, avoid alcohol and medications (to make you sleep) they'll make you feel more miserable, especially since sleep is interrupted on a plane. Get a window seat so you are not being asked to move by other passengers and wear eye shades to block out light and this will also let people know not to disturb you. Wearing ear plugs will help block out noise.

But if you are like me, then focus on what to do when you lose sleep, rather than trying to get sleep when it's probably not possible. You can read our jet lag page here : http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/jet-lag

And when you land, even if you do sleep, you'll still be tired. Eat fresh, healthy foods and stay awake, no matter how tired you are, until it's night-time in your new destination. Make sure you don't fall asleep until at least 8 or 9pm local time. This will get your body regulated a lot faster than sleeping as soon as you find a bed, and waking up in the middle of the night, local time. Don't do that!

And keep up your exercise routine as much as you can and get as much sunshine as possible. Within a few days, you'll be close to normal again.

One study showed that flying on an empty stomach is a good way to downplay jet lag, but feel free to bring some fresh fruit, and healthy snacks on board and avoid the dreadful pre-packaged meals that are offered up as "food"! Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Don't forget to walk around the plane every so often to avoid a lack of circulation. That's important. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition.

I hope this helps! Long distance air travel is hard on the system and it's not always possible to avoid fatigue but if you use some of these tips you can at least minimize the tiredness.

Have a safe trip!

August 10, 2009 - 12:27pm
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