Foolproof ways to get sleep on long-haul flights

BY Richard Mellor

1st Jan 2015 Travel

Foolproof ways to get sleep on long-haul flights
Lengthy flights are awful if you can’t sleep. Here are 14 ways to much improve your chances of dozing off.

1. Seat selection

seat selection sleep well flights
The wondrous website SeatGuru has the skinny on every seat on every plane’s legroom, toilet-pong potential, engine noise and so forth.
Consult it while remembering one other golden rule: parents with (loud) children almost always sit up front. Meaning you shouldn’t.

2. Pick your side

Sleep on your right at home? Then book a window seat—for extra room—on the plane’s right side. And vice versa for those tending to lean left.
Window seats also eliminate the chances of your neighbour waking you while she squeezes across en-route to the loo.

3. The early bird gets the snooze?

Sort your seat well in advance, too, to avoid disappointment. Most airline websites allow you to change seats long before check-in is available.

4. Pack a pillow

Comfort is vital, so shop around for a pillow which suits you; if it’s a doughnut, try turning it around to avoid jolting into consciousness when your head sags. If possible, use the plane’s own pillows for lumbar support.

5. Nice smell

spray your pillow
Spritz your pillow, clothes and wrists with a soothing scent—either something that reminds you of your bed or a pacifying fragrance like lavender oil.

6. Additional paraphernalia

Good-quality eye masks and baseball caps block out light and create a cocoon-like vibe.
Earplugs can muffle baby cries and the mouldable silicone ones tend to be more effective than the freebies airlines provide.

7. Comfy clothing

wearing a tracksuit on a flight sleep
Loose clothing is not only cosy, but it helps guard against deep vein thrombosis (DVT), as do compression stockings.
Good shouts include sweatpants and for reassuring familiarity, pyjamas.

8. Arrive tired

If you really need a nap, then you’re likelier to get one. Following this logic, arrive exhausted for your flight—go to bed late or awaken early the night before.
Inducing yawns as you settle down can additionally help.

9. Dietary decisions

drink tea before take off
Avoid anything caffeinated or highly-sugared for hours before departure. Heavy meals can also keep you awake, so only pick at that in-flight dinner or leave it entirely.
Alcohol can be soporific but also dehydrating; far better to sip herbal teas or milk, which contains the drowsiness-promoting amino acid tryptophan.

10. Lose the literature

For the long-legged, every last inch is vital. So, before sitting down, move all in-flight magazines and duty-free catalogues from your seat-back to the overhead hold, and buy yourself some precious extra space.

11. Forego films

long haul flight headphones
Not only does bright light from TV screens animate your brain, but dramatic movies also risk leaving viewers feeling over-alert.
Listen to relaxing music or white noise instead, ideally via noise-cancelling headphones. Reading a book or meditating offer other ways to subdue manic minds.

12. Pop a pill?

Sleeping tablets are the best cheat but they do up the risk of DVT for cramped, upright users. Ditto valium, and similar drugs.
Wear compression stockings if you must take these, and consider short-acting pills in the name of safety.

13. Follow rituals

brush teeth long haul flight
Replicating normal evening routines can trick bodies into relaxing. If possible, use the usual moisturiser, wash that face, brush your teeth and gargle some mouthwash, just like at home.

14. Buckle blatantly

When planes encounter turbulence, air stewards are obliged to ensure every passenger is belted.
There’s nothing worse than being woken once you have attained precious slumber, so always lock up a loose-but-visible seatbelt before commencing Operation Sleep.
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