Having a good night’s sleep – it’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. But, sometimes sleep evades us, especially while flying.
I have trouble sleeping on planes. If you’re like me, you’ll need a few aids and strategies to help you relax and rest in the air, so that you have a better chance of actually falling asleep. It’s essential that I pack items to reach this goal, and I’ve found a few that have done the trick.
Create a “bed time” environment
At home I love a dark room and absolute silence, and I do my best to mimic this on a crowded plane. While some airlines provide eyes masks and ear plugs for long-haul flights, I prefer to pack my own. Ear plugs don’t drown out all of the noise, but they help reduce the sounds of the screaming babies, coughers, talkers, and frequent lavatory goers.
As much as I need silence, others need background noise from music or the TV. If you prefer something different to the constant hum of the plane and noise from fellow passengers, put your favorite movies, shows, or tunes on your media player. Replace ear plugs with ear buds. Try some noise-cancelling headphones for the ultimate upgrade.
Economy seats won’t remind you of your mattress at home, but a pillow and blanket may help you feel more at rest. Use the ones the airline provides or consider bringing your own. Travel pillows vary from ones you inflate, those stuffed with various materials, U-shaped neck pillows, to mini “regular” pillows. If you don’t want to pack an actual travel blanket, consider a large pashmina or Turkish towel for added comfort.
“Sleepy time” picks
I love herbal teas and Celestial Seasonings has my favorite herbal and fruit flavored teas. There’s even a Sleepytime tea with chamomile, spearmint, and lemongrass! Pack a tea bag or two for the plane and ask for hot water when the flight attendants make their rounds. Tip: As natural herbs can affect us differently, you may wish to research teas and speak with your doctor first.
In addition to tea, consider lotions, sprays, and other body products that can help you relax and sleep. Bath and Body Works has an aromatherapy line and offers a variety of products to help with sleep.
I own their “stress relief pillow mist spray” and “sleep lotion” and love them both. The “sleep” products are made with lavender and vanilla or lavender and chamomile, and they offer easy-to-pack lotion, body mist, and pillow mist (among other choices).
Oral sleep aids
Whether you choose a natural sleep aid, one that’s available at the pharmacy over the counter (no prescription needed), or one prescribed by your doctor, an oral sleep aid can help you find a multi-hour sleep on the plane (and once at your destination). As with any medicinal aid, speak with your doctor to learn what’s best for you.
Melatonin is one of the body’s naturally occurring hormones, which helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles. After recently hearing several friends rave about taking Melatonin supplements, I’m going to speak with my doctor about a recommended dose.
If you choose an oral sleep aid, be sure to test it before you leave home to see how it affects your body.
Personal sleep comfort
The perfect plane outfit will be comfortable, cozy, versatile, and ultimately allow you to sleep. Stick to loose and stretchy bottoms (unless you really, truly love your jeans), and layerable tops so you can adjust for temperature variations.
Planes have a way of drying you out: your skin, your eyes, and your mouth. It’s not like we need any more physical discomfort than we’re already in (thanks, economy seats). Think about preparing a DIY flight amenity kit with some lip balm, eye drops, and hand lotion.
>> Also check out our post on what to pack for sleeping anywhere.
Are you one of those travelers I envy, who can fall asleep anywhere at any time? Or are you more like me and need one (or more) tricks and tools to help you rest? Tell us your favorite item to pack to help you sleep, whether it’s from the list above or one I missed!
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