With the increasing popularity of "Red Eye" flights and overseas travel, and the ever decreasing seat space and services offered by commercial airlines, in-flight sleeping is more challenging than ever before. Here are some tips to help you catch the elusive zzz's
- Many travelers so dread the prospect of a sleepless long haul flight that their anxiety creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Try to take care of as many work, home and travel details as possible before you leave so that flight day is stress-free. Then enjoy the airborne hours as a time when all your chores are done, and relaxation is your only option.
- Make sure you dress the part. Wear comfortable, non-binding clothes made of soft fabrics with elastic waist bands. Slip off your shoes and slip on a pair of cozy socks.
- Board at the first announcement to increase the odds that your carry-on bag can be stowed in the overhead bin, allowing you to take advantage of all available leg space.
- There are never enough blankets or pillows for everyone on board, and those that are available are not laundered between flights. Bring a supportive neck pillow, a warm travel blanket, and block the light and noise with a good eyeshade and earplugs. For a more high-tech solution to engine noise, especially if you like to listen to music as you rest, try noise blocking or noise cancelling headphones.
- Set your watch to the destination time as soon as you board the plane, and try not to think about what time it is at home. You may also wish to set your alarm for an hour or so before landing so you'll have time to move around a bit, use the restroom and be completely awake upon arrival.
- Instruct the flight attendants not to wake you for meals or beverages, and fasten your seatbelt over your blanket so you won't be disturbed should the seatbelt sign come on.
- The humidity level in airline passenger cabins is extremely low, so drink plenty of water, and keep your sinuses hydrated to help ward off germs. Stay away from alcohol and caffeine, as they dehydrate you and interfere with sleep.
While it's true that travel is not the pleasant experience it was in the days of the Pan Am Flying Clipper Ships, a little planning and preparation will make your trip much more comfortable. So settle in, buckle up, relax, and enjoy a good rest!