Skill - How to Sleep on Long Airplane Flights

This post has some brief ideas about how to improve how well you sleep on long airplane flights and improve your ability to acclimate to the new time zone. The tips don't work for everyone, especially if you get neck or back aches from spending long periods in an airline seat. While yo can find tips on Ehow and other web sites, I did not find them very satisfying even though they cover the most the same ground that I do. The quick and dirty tip is this: get as little sleep as possible before you fly and it will significantly improve how long and how deeply you can sleep on the flight. Upon arrival, stay awake until late on the first day, which again improves your odds of not waking up at 0200 the first night.

Key Points


  • Getting only two or three hours of sleep the night before the flight is optimal (at least for me). The hardest part is not waking up as you might expect. It is staying active and busy so you are not dragging (and therefore miserable) before you lie down. I find I feel quite good most travel days waking up after only two or three hours of sleep because the anticipation of getting on the plane (and parking, and airport security and ...) gives me plenty to stay mentally active.
  • Wear comfortable clothes for the plane flight. I once wore a track suit on a flight to Greece from New York and that was great, but I changed into it in the airplane lavatory, which was a bit cumbersome. If I do that again, I will change before I board the flight (and in the airport after I arrive).
  • Bring gum or hard candy that you can chew on connecting flights or until after the meal is served on the overnight flight. Chewing keeps me from falling asleep before I want to do so.
  • Get a window seat so you won't get woken up by people stepping over you on the way to the bathroom (no brainer).
  • Bring your own water to drink so it will be readily available after you wake up. When you wake up after sleeping for several hours in the dehydrated air of an airplane, it will feel like you have a dry lake bed in your mouth.
  • Eat a light dinner and drink very little liquid so you won't have to get up to use the restroom after you fall asleep.
  • Bring an eye ask to block out the lights. I did not used to believe in this, but after my flights to Ireland last summer (no eye mask) and Bahrain last month, I have noticed the difference. Sure, it looks goofy, but who cares if you sleep better?
  • Consider bringing toothpaste and a toothbrush on the flight. They won't help you sleep any better, but brushing your teeth before landing and after waking will make you feel a lot better and get the diesel engine taste out of your mouth.
  • Take your shoes off, especially if you have high arches like me. You either need to have warm socks on (airline cabin crews often keep the cabin a bit cool on overnight flights) or really portable slippers. I have seen some from Magellan that I think are worth considering.
  • Wear ear plugs and/or noise canceling headphones (self-explanatory).

If readers have other tips you want to share, upload a comment to this post.


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