Snooze at 30,000 ft: Conquering In-Flight Insomnia

Posted on September 10, 2011


Jet lag and in-flight insomnia are two big concerns for Globetrotters. Whether it’s a long intercontinental flight or a short hop across Europe, knowing how to sleep on planes will allow you to rest up for your adventures ahead. But before you hit the hay, be sure that doing so won’t throw you into a bad case of jet lag. This article will provide useful tips to making snoozing on-board a cinch and show you how to avoid jet lag.


 By Kalynne Coleman

It’s important to remember that sleeping during your flight isn’t always the best idea. Doing so at the wrong time can give you a bad case of jet lag. To prevent jet lag, pay attention to your arrival time. For example, if your twelve hour flight is scheduled to land in the morning, you should definitely plan on sleeping. That way you’ll be well rested when you start the new day. However, if your plane is scheduled to land late at night, you should avoid sleeping at all costs; otherwise, you will arrive fully awake when everyone is heading to bed. This can leave you with a terrible case of jet lag for up to a week!

Here are some tips that will help you snooze when it counts:

  • Get Comfy.
    Airplanes are notorious for being uncomfortable. With cramped spaces and wimpy pillows, it’s important to dress comfortably and kick off your shoes. Wear a soft hoodie, comfortable pants, and shoes that you can kick off while still having your socks on to keep your feet warm. Bring an extra layer in your carry-on in case it’s cold up there.
  • Bring a Neck Pillow.
    Travel stores as well as places like Target and WalMart sell a wide variety of neck pillows. These little guys can make all the difference on any flight. Shop around for what’s most comfortable for you. Some have beads; some are inflatable; and some have special features to amplify your ability to sleep. If you don’t have a pillow, you can create a makeshift pillow using a sweatshirt rolled up and draped around your neck.
  • Scout Out the Best Seat. by Tripadvisor is an awesome tool that lets you view the seats on your plane before you leave. Check this site out to scout out your prime position – it could make or break a good sleeping situation. Choosing a seat depends on the person. Some people prefer a window seat they can lean against while others prefer the freedom of the aisle seat, allowing them to come and go without disturbing their neighbors.
  • Stay Away From Caffeine.
    Don’t drink caffeinated beverages – not just coffee and tea, but soda too. Water and fruit juice is always the best choice when flying.
  • Regulate Your Fluids.
    Try not to drink excessive fluids, or else you may have to use the toilet repeatedly. At the same time, flying can dehydrate you quickly. It’s all about balance.
  • Find The Most Comfortable Sleep Position.
    Don’t be embarrassed; find a way to sleep on a plane that works for you. If I’m not sitting next to a window, I’ll pull down my tray to create a makeshift headrest. Use books and a jacket to make a comfortable place to rest your head there, or to create an elbow rest, so that you can lay your head in your hand. You can also stick your feet into the crack of the seats in front of you and curl up.
  • Use sleep aids with caution.
    Use discretion and know what your body can handle. Natural supplements like melatonin are great ways to kick start your mid flight snooze. Artificial drugs like Tylenol PM or Nyquil may help you sleep but may leave you groggy for hours after the flight, defeating the purpose of sleeping in the first place. Anything stronger has health risks that you should consult your doctor about.

Flights may seem like a big obstacle during your adventures abroad, but by learning to sleep on planes, the task of flying will be a lot less daunting and much more enjoyable. Here are some resources to conquer in flight insomnia.

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