You're on the plane for a six-hour travel across the globe. You have waited three hours at the airport and your body is showing signs exhaustion. But your eyes are wide open. You can't sleep.
There's movement all around; chip bags crinkling, a baby crying, the stewardess walking back and forth. You choose to focus on your book, but you wonder how your seatmate was able to get some good shut-eye and you want to know his secret.
Sleeping while travelling is can be a struggle for the less prepared, but if you heed these hacks, you're more likely to have a few good hours of slumber without the fatigue and jetlag.
Score a seat by the window. You can easily lean your head on the side of the plane, control your light exposure, and sense fewer movements as people are more likely to disturb you in your corner. Make sure the space is enough for you to stretch out your feet for better blood circulation. At best, avoid picking seats near the bathrooms.
Be extra polite at the check-in. A little kindness goes a long way. Make friends with your seating companion; you might be able to snag an extra leg room.
There will be movement and noises everywhere, but don’t let these factors dampen your intention to sleep. Block off all the sound with the help of sound-cancelling earplugs, and the sight by wearing an eye-mask
Wear something comfortable. If your clothes are fussy, you're less likely heading to slumberdom. You want to wear something light, airy and can aid in moderating your body temperature. We recommend slipping in your silk pyjama blouse; it's luxurious, fashionable, and literally cool to wear. Have a good pair of socks and cover yourself in a shawl or blanket when it gets colder.
Lean back, recline on your chair, and straighten your legs. Put less pressure on your back; you can easily do this by supporting your lumbar area with a pillow or a rolled-up blanket. Rest your forearms to support your upper body. If you want, lean your shoulder into your seat and shift your body to the side.
Avoid sleeping aids, wine, and coffee. It can be tempting to have a glass of wine to lure you to sleep, but alcohol can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Drinking caffeine to stay awake also does the same thing. Instead of turning to liquor and artificial sleeping aids, consider a herbal option. Pack a lavender tea bag into your essentials or put drops of this essential oil on your handkerchief or facemask to help you fall asleep.
Switch the lights off. Increase melatonin release by dimming the lights and putting away your tablet. Your body is triggered to fall asleep in the dark, so put that silky eye mask on, cover your ears, and start your trip to dreamland.
Extra tip: Plan ahead and adjust the hours to your destination timezone. If you are on an overnight flight, avoid light exposure during the first half of the trip, as it's more likely nighttime where you're heading. That way, you get to actually sleep in the country's time zone when you get there.
A nap of 15 to 30 minutes is enough to power you up, shift your circadian rhythm, and get you going. Use these tips to let your body rest and adjust to a new time as you head onto your journey.