Tips for sleeping during a flight

2012-07-25 13:24

While it seems like some travellers are blessed with the uncanny ability to conk out as soon as the wheels tuck into the plane's belly, many suffer when it comes to getting some good and solid rest on a flight. 

This often means the first day or so spent in a new and exciting destination, is filled with yawns, red eyes, heavy legs and daydreams of sinking into a soft bed. Of course, the addition of jetlag makes this even more painful!

Here are ten tips to aid sleep on your next flight and get off to a good holiday start. 

Ask for a window seat

Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to be seated in business or first class.

However, for the rest of us in cattle class, getting a window seat is the ultimate if your desire is to catch some zzzzs on a flight.

Firstly, you won't have seatmates clambering over you to get to the bathroom every few hours. Secondly, sitting against the window will give you something to prop your pillow and lean your head against. 

Don't know how to secure the window seat? Check out our article on getting the seat you want.

Wear comfy clothes

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to show up in sweats, if you're the stylish sort! Basically avoid clothes that are too constricting and shoes that don't allow your feat breathing space. Also layering your outfit is a good idea, as airplane cabins tend to fluctuate in temperature... for some weird reason!

Take a look at our gallery of what not to wear while travelling.

Keep hydrated

While drinking too much water, and having to jump up to relieve your bladder every half-an-hour may not be the greatest idea, keeping well hydrated is an essential part of helping your body to reach rest mode. Be sure to take a few swigs of water before boarding the flight, and intermittently throughout. 

Avoid caffeine 

If you're going to spend a few hours waiting to board your flight, resist the urge to indulge in a tall latte or double espresso. Instead have a cup of herbal tea, milky hot chocolate or a cherry juice/smoothie. 

Herbal teas, such as chamomile, are known to have calming effects and contain sleep-inducing theanine, warm milk (and other dairy products) contain tryptothan, an amino acid that helps you feel sleepy, and calcium aids in relaxing your muscles, finally cherries naturally boost the body's supply of melatonin, which helps ward off insomnia. 

Have A drink

Once again, moderation is the key here. Having a glass of red wine, a tot of whiskey or a swig of vodka will surely aid in relaxation, but overindulging will leave you feeling dehydrated, headachy and very grumpy. Also sleeping while intoxicated is hardly a restful affair. 

Wear an eye mask 

Remember the days of the in-flight care package containing socks, an eye mask, a mini-toothbrush-toothpaste combo? Well, with rising fuel prices and the consequential cost cuts across the board, airlines hardly ever offer these to economy class flyers anymore. So, bring your own eye mask, and even earplugs. You may at first feel a bit silly, but the cozy darkness can be delightful on a disturbing flight!

Soothing music

Take some time to construct a soothing playlist on your iPod/mp3 player prior to your flight. When it's time to settle down, pop in your earphones and let the sounds lull you. If your own music isn't going along, investigate the airlines' entertainment offering. They're sure to have something to suit your needs. 

Free up your feet

There's nothing worse than feeling trapped and cramped in your seat. One way to make sure you don't get stuck in this horrid situation is to keep your carry-on luggage to the minimum, and stow the bit that you have in the overhead compartments, instead of at your feet. Although it's hardly much of a stretch, it will give your legs at least a bit of room.

If you're worried about your luggage being safe, check out these 14 tips.

Sleeping aid

If you're a light sleeper, getting a bit of shuteye on a flight is probably close to impossible, so in this case it really is okay to pop a little something... even if that isn't normally your style. However, just chat to a doctor or a chemist before opting for just anything, because, let's be quite frank, the air is no place to suddenly realise your medication is having a adverse effect. 

If you're generally nervous of medication, opt for something harmless and homeopathic like rescue remedy. However, if you want it to have any sort of effect, start taking it a few hours before your flight, as it takes a while to kick in. 

Taking a melatonin supplement is also a good idea, but this should start a few days before your trip for it to come into full effect. 

Creature comforts

Read more on:    flights  |  travel south africa  |  travel tips  |  travel international

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