Actually, that’s not entirely true. International flights in business class are super fun, with movies, wine, lie-flat seats, fluffy blankets, and delicious food. Coach is another story, especially when it comes to sleep. Of course, sleeping is (relatively) easy if you’re in business class. Just recline your seat to its lie-flat position and pass out!
Okay, there may be a few other steps. But there is no question that sleeping in coach is way, way harder. So here is the way to get the best rest you possibly can in those tiny seats.
Set your watch. As soon as you get on the plane adjust your mind/watch/phone to the time at your destination. Plan your sleep so that your adjustment to the new time will be easier (as much as is feasible).
Take a sleep aid. I like Tylenol PM, some like Melatonin, some like wine. Whatever you need, take it! Also, be smart about when you take it. Generally I recommend about 30 minutes to an hour before when you would like to be asleep. I thought I didn’t need it on my last trip over to Manila and wasn’t able to go to sleep at all. Never again!
Do your routine. Obviously planes are not the place for a long hot shower prior to bed. But recreating your bedtime routine as much as possible will help you get in the sleep mindset. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and read a book for a few minutes.
Get comfy. Make sure you’ve got comfortable clothes on that won’t pinch or dig into your skin. Recline your seat (except during food service!). Put on soft socks or slippers. Grab a blanket and pillow. Anything you can do to make yourself as comfortable as possible within the limitations of your seat. Tip: On my last trip I had two pillows–the one the airline gave me, plus an inflatable neck pillow. I was able to stack them on top of each other to get just the right height for my head. As part of this….
Elevate your feet. Sleeping while seated is difficult for most of us. Propping something under your feet, rather it’s bag, partially inflated beach ball, or actual footrest makes your body slightly more aligned for sleep.
Deprive your senses. Some people have no problem just closing their eyes to sleep. On airplanes I need a little more help! I use an eyemask to block out light, and my earbuds or noise-canceling headphones with a white noise app to block out sound. With the blanket around me it feels like I’m in my own little cocoon!
Sleep on an international flight is definitely possible with the right planning! On my most recent trip using these tips I was able to sleep a shocking six hours straight in coach. I woke feeling refreshed and ready to get going as soon as I landed.
Readers, what tips do you use to sleep on international flights?
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