Trick your body
Many travelers have better luck sleeping in-flight by tinkering with their body clock. Try waking up early the morning before your flight and staying active throughout the day to tire yourself out. Eat at times that make sense for your body, routine and the local time at your destination—even if that means having dinner in the airport and skipping the in-flight meal. Some travelers swear by going horizontal pre-flight. Lay down across a few seats before boarding, just secure your carry-on and other items before closing your eyes. A few minutes may act as a preemptive defense against the next hours you’ll spend mostly upright. Lastly, go through your normal bedtime routine as much as possible. Brush your teeth, remove your contact lenses, have some quiet reading time or do whatever you do to power down when at home.
Neck pillows, earplugs and sleep masks are all standard airplane accessories, but a rolled up sweatshirt, some headphones and a pair of dark sunglasses will do the trick, too. Wear loose, comfortable clothes made of breathable fabrics, as body temperature is an important factor when you’re trying to fight science for some shut-eye. A pashmina or large scarf works great as a blanket or rolled up as a pillow. Bring comfy socks or even slippers to keep your feet warm. Pack some snacks, too! You won’t fall asleep if you’re stressed about missing the in-flight meal.
Even with your eyes and ears covered, there’s still plenty that can cut your slumber short. Buckle your seat belt over any blankets or clothing so a flight attendant won’t need to wake you up for a safety check. Opt for a seat away from the bathroom and kitchen to avoid excess noise or being jostled by passengers and crew moving around the plane. Tell a flight attendant that you don’t want to be awoken for the in-flight meal. Skip caffeine or alcohol and drink plenty of water to combat dehydration. Similarly, some hand lotion and lip balm tucked into your carry-on may be the difference between comfortable dozing and chapped lips or itchy, dry skin nagging at you when it’s time for lights out.
Do you have any tricks for catching some in-flight ZZZs? Tell us in the comments!