Make sure you sleep on long flights!

When I traveled to Manila a few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty confident I could handle everything related to the trip. I’ve done this! I thought. It will be no problem! You’ve all heard that pride goeth before a fall….. I told you about my stupid time goofs. Well, one of the reasons I made the time goofs was because I was just SO TIRED when I got to the hotel. Why is that, you ask? Because I didn’t sleep enough on the plane.

At first, I was just enjoying my books (rereading the Southern Vampire series–fun!), my business class lay flat chair, and drinking all the wine the flight attendant was bringing me. So I forgot to take the Tylenol PM that I had brought. I realized that when I finally turned off my Kindle and tried to go to sleep, and all I could think about was the fact that it was only 7:30 pm at home. Of course I wasn’t able to sleep, and I didn’t want to take a Tylenol PM at that point because it would have been really hard to wake up when the flight landed. When we landed in Tokyo, I was exhausted. The two hour layover seemed to last forever, and I passed out as soon as I sat down in my tiny coach seat. Not surprisingly, I didn’t sleep that well. So when I finally arrived at my hotel in Manila, I fell asleep immediately. If I had been awake get the “The meetings started several hours ago, where are you?” call, I would have been there much earlier. Sigh.

The moral of this story is, do whatever you have to do to go to sleep on your longer flight, when traveling trans-ocean or trans-continent. Tylenol PM, wine, melatonin, a prescription sleep aid, getting up super early on your travel day, whatever you have to do. (I am not advocating abuse of OTC or prescription drugs, so find another way if you think that may be a problem for you.) It can really affect your trip in a bad way if you are exhausted when you arrive, not to mention sleeping on the plane will help you to defeat jet lag. Ignore the fact that it’s 5pm or whatever at home, put down the book or movie, and GO TO SLEEP. On the way home I took the Tylenol PM with dinner and slept very comfortably for six hours. Totally worth it!


  1. I absolutely agree with the importance of sleep on long-hauls to feel semi-normal when landing. I’m in the med camp and have found Trazodone to be a life saver. It doesn’t carry the side effects of an Ambien or Lunesta, and also doesn’t leave me groggy. I will sometimes use it when I have a 6am flight & want to go to bed at 8pm the night before. Works for me like a charm. Rx required, though.

  2. As soon as I take my seat on the plane I adjust my watch to the local time of my destination and adjust my attitude to match. I may not be tired yet, but I think that I have to be up in the morning and try to get to sleep as soon as the meal is over.

  3. Two weeks ago, I flew direct from Detroit to Shanghai (15hrs) in Biz class and slept for only 3hrs on the plane. I wanted to stay up as long as possible because we were arriving at night and I could just sleep when I got to the hotel. Worked out great for me. I sleep well on planes, so it’s not a problem. On my return flight to the US from Hong Kong (HKG to DTW direct) last weekend, I slept longer on the plane so I could readjust to the Central timezone. So far, so good. 🙂

  4. tried the alcohol route (cognac) on my last trip to ICN, didn’t work at all…feel dizzy and didn’t sleep well…crashed at the hotel at 8pm local time (4am PST) and woke up at 4am the next day (12pm PST)…running on fumes the entire 3 day business trip.

    from experience, takes me about 1-2 days to accomodate to effect of jet lag with full rest…trying either prescription route or staying awake at destination local time before starting the trip

    best to get a flight where you can sleep, lay flat and in the dark quiet environment…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.