How To Sleep at 36,000 Feet

by Julia on March 8, 2010

Sleep like a baby on your next flight....

Flying can be stressful enough what with tiny airline seats, crying children and the movie and music escaping from the entertainment system! Get your vacation off to the right start next time with our tips on how to get some valuable sleep whilst in the air;

Adjust before you go – Try to adjust your internal body clock before you fly, for example if you are traveling from East to West try staying up a little later for a few days prior to flying. And the opposite applies when traveling west to east; go to bed and get up earlier.
Choose the right seat – The location of your seat is probably the most important aspect in how well you’ll sleep onboard. Opt for a window seat and you’ll get to lean against the window to sleep and to control the window blind. Also you won’t need to keep getting up for others to get out and use the bathroom. Be aware that exit row seats may come with extra legroom, but not all these seats recline and some may have armrest that can’t be lifted. The very last row also probably won’t recline and has the added issues of being located by the toilets and by the galley!
Fly direct – Consider taking a direct flight, rather than connecting flights if possible, which will increase the chance of a decent sleep, rather than smaller naps.
Cut the caffeine – Before boarding and during the flight, stick to water and juice rather than tea, coffee and cola as the caffeine will keep you awake. Avoid alcohol as well which will dehydrate you.
Ditch the hand luggage – The less hand luggage and duty free items that you buy prior to flying means there is less to stow in the foot well, especially if you’re last on and all the overhead locker space has been taken. Separate your flying essentials; magazine, snacks, water, socks etc into one small bag to stow in the seatback and stow your main bag away.
Layer up – Onboard temperatures can vary so layer your clothes up so you can add or take off clothes as needed.
Take pillows and blankets – Make sure you get a pillow and blanket when you board, or better still, take your own. Pack smart and take a wrap to use as a blanket and take an inflatable pillow which will also save space. You’ll also have your creature comforts with you and will know when they were last washed!
Accessorize – If you need earplugs and a sleep mask to be able to some sleep then take your own accessories with you. If you need your favorite teddy bear, then take him too!
Strip down to socks – Slip your shoes off when you fly and let your feet swell naturally. Carry some flight socks or slipper socks with you which will be essential for the restroom stops!
Eat wisely – Don’t eat anything too heavy or rich either in the airport terminal or onboard. Opt for light salads and fruit and vegetables instead.
Tune out – Load up your MP3 player with your favorite tunes and some chill out tracks. The music could block out any background noise, especially if you have noise cancelling headphones, although do listen out for any safety announcements and don’t play your music so loud that it disturbs others.
Politely recline – Get some sleep whilst reclined but be courteous – make sure the person behind you isn’t eating or drinking, a quick look back is all that’s needed.
Belt up – Make sure your seat belt is fastened over the top of your blanket and is visible then the cabin crew won’t need to disturb you should you hit turbulence.
When you wake – When you’ve enjoyed your sleep, get up and brush your teeth and generally freshen up and have a coffee.
When you arrive – Once you’re at your destination, I normally find that getting into the swing of things is the best option. So if it’s evening go out and have a quick walk about and get some dinner.

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