Is there anything better than sleeping through a flight? Long journeys are over before you know it, and you arrive at your destination well rested and ready to enjoy your holiday. However, actually falling asleep on a plane is easier said than done. But before you reach for the sleeping pills, check out these seven quick tips for a mid-air slumber.
Avoid the noise
One of the biggest sleep-stoppers on a flight is quite simply the amount of noise. Whether it’s screaming babies, someone having a seemingly endless coughing fit, or a neighbour that absolutely has to tell you their life story, there always seems to be something in the way of letting you doze off. Drown out these annoyances by packing earplugs in your hand luggage, or better yet, noise-cancelling headphones.
Sure, all the seats in economy look the same, but your position on a plane can actually be a deciding factor when it comes to whether or not you will be spending your flight in the land of nod. Seats at the back of the plane are generally the noisiest, and might be a bit too close to the bathroom danger zone for your nostrils’ liking. Instead, aim for a seat in the middle of the plane, as areas near to the wing are generally the most stable part of an aircraft. A window seat is an even bigger bonus, as you can lean against the window and avoid having to get up to let people past.
Watch what you drink
It might seem like a good idea to grab a cup of coffee to kill some time when you’re in the airport, or knock a few back at the bar to quell your pre-flight nerves, but you’ll soon be regretting it if you want to get some mid-air shut-eye. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to eight hours, and will keep you wide awake even if you don’t want to be. Likewise alcohol should be avoided, as it can cause dehydration-induced headaches, which will be your worst enemy if you are trying to sleep.
[Related feature: How to get a flight upgrade]
Comfort is key
Unless you’ve bagged yourself a spot in first class, it’s fair to say that planes aren’t the comfiest of places. Make it your pre-flight mission to change this. A decent travel pillow might seem like an extravagant purchase, but you’ll soon learn to love its soft embrace when you discover the new levels of plane-based comfort it provides. Combine this with an eye mask to cut out any unwanted bright lights, and some loose fitting clothes that won’t get uncomfortable during the flight, and you’ll be drifting off in no time.
Those of you who suffer from motion sickness will know all too well that sleep is just about the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling nauseous during a flight. To avoid this annoying ailment, try to take preventative steps such as avoiding large meals, drinking plenty of water, and working on controlled breathing techniques. If none of these seem to work then don’t be afraid to visit your doctor, who should be able to provide some stomach-settling medication before your trip.
Do not disturb
There’s nothing worse than finally managing to fall asleep, only to be woken up after approximately ten seconds of shut-eye. Make a mental hit list of people who might get in the way of your nap and take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen. If your neighbour is chat-happy (aren’t they always?), politely let them know you are going to try to catch some Zs. It’s also a good idea to fasten your seatbelt above your blanket if you are using one, as otherwise a flight attendant may need to wake you up to check you are securely strapped in.
Pull an all-nighter
If all else fails then it’s time to bring out the big guns for your next flight. It’ll be tough, but try to minimise (or completely avoid) sleeping the night before your journey. Sure, you’ll have reached an all new state of crankiness by the time you get to the airport, but you’ll be so tired when you board the plane that sleep will be all but inevitable. Depending on the time of your flight you can also use this as an opportunity to acclimatise yourself with the time zone of your destination, which will help to prevent any pesky jet lag ruining your trip.