There’s nothing worse than being the only passenger awake on a plane when everyone else is sleeping soundly with their sleep masks and neck pillows.
Instead of just hoping, here are some strategies you can use — which we found in a helpful Quora thread — to help you get a little shut eye on your next long flight.
Try to book a nonstop flight at a time that’s closest to your normal sleeping hours.
In other words, try to fly through the night (according to the time zone you’re normally in). You’re more likely to fall asleep if it’s nighttime according to your body clock than if it’s daytime.
And the longer uninterrupted flying time you have to try and fall asleep (and stay asleep), the better.
Wear comfortable clothing.
Tight clothing is not ideal for sleeping, so it’s best to wear clothes that are a little more soft and loose-fitting. Layers are also a good idea since trying to sleep when you’re hot or cold is difficult.
Don’t try to fall asleep right after take off.
Although it’s easy to fall asleep during pressurization of the cabin immediately after take off, chances are you’ll end up waking up once the plane levels off and flight attendants start serving drinks and meals. Instead, wait until everyone has settled into their seats and the lights have been turned off.
Take the window seat.
This will ensure you won’t be disturbed when your seatmate needs to use the bathroom. And you won’t be woken up by flight attendants pushing food and drink carts or other passengers walking up and down the aisle.
Make sure you have lumbar support.
Lumbar refers to your lower spine. It’s best to fall asleep with your butt planted on your seat and your back against the back of your seat. It can be tempting to hunch over or try to curl up, but you probably won’t stay comfortable for long or you’re likely to wake up in pain if that’s how you fall asleep.
Invest in a neck pillow, a pair of noise cancelling headphones, and a sleep mask.
A neck pillow is crucial in avoiding waking up with a crick in your neck — which can make the rest of your flight very uncomfortable. Neck pillows also ensure that your head will stay in one place when you sleep, as opposed to falling forward every few minutes.
Noise cancelling headphones can be expensive, but they’re worth it for those who have trouble blocking out obnoxiously loud plane and passenger noises. For light sleepers, a baby crying or flight attendants talking can ruin your chances of getting any sleep during the flight.
Even though the flight attendants turn off the lights in the cabin, the plane is never completely dark. The only way you’ll achieve this is with a sleep mask.
Take off your shoes.
It’s unnatural to sleep with your shoes on, and your goal is to try and do everything you would normally do when you’re sleeping soundly in your bed at home. If you’re wearing sandals on the flight, it’s a good idea to bring some socks with you, since cold feet are just another obstacle that might keep you awake.
Wrap yourself in a blanket — but make sure your seat belt is buckled over the blanket.
You’ll feel more cosy if you’re wrapped in a blanket, but if the flight attendants can’t see your seat belt buckle, they might wake you up to make sure it’s buckled when the seat belt sign is on. So buckle your belt over your blanket and you’ll avoid that issue.
Give yourself as much legroom as possible.
Trying to sleep when your legs are scrunched up is not easy. If possible, put your carry on bag in an overhead compartment so that the space in front of you is taken up only by your legs. Having the luxury to stretch your legs will improve your chances of getting a good rest.
Try reading a book or magazine instead of watching movies.
Watching TV can make falling asleep harder, whereas reading often makes you feel tired, so you’re more likely to fall asleep after doing it. While it’s fun to watch the movies offered on long flights, if you’re determined to sleep, you may be better off bringing a book or magazine to read on board. You may even surprise yourself and fall asleep mid-page.
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