6 things to help you sleep on international flights

Monday, I embark on the longest trip I take for my job: Manila. It takes 25 hours of transit time to go there from Texas, which can be kind of daunting. Not only is that a lot of time, when I land I go to the hotel to shower and eat, then head straight to the office. That makes sleeping during the trip incredibly important. I can often doze for a while on a regular flight, but I’ll need to sleep more deeply than that for this trip. The trip from DFW to Tokyo is 14 hours, so that’s where I’ll catch the bulk of my zzzzs. Here are the six things I use to help me sleep on international flights.

6 things to help you sleep

  1. Travel blanket. Available all over the place, in a ton of price points, yet so important. Airplanes are cold! Wrapping myself in a cocoon of warmth with my own travel blanket really helps me sleep.
  2. Travel pillow. The window is too hard for the hours of sleep I’ll need, so I bring my own travel pillow. After a lot of trial and error, I have decided I like the U shape best—it allows me to sleep sitting straight up if needed, but will work well against a wall too.
  3. Noise canceling headphones. These are key! I use the headphones with my White Noise app, and together they block all of the regular plane noise—voices, announcements, dishes, etc—but gives me the background noise I need to sleep comfortably.
  4. Tylenol PM. Some people love Ambien, others wine, and others more natural sleep remedies. But I have found that nothing gets me to sleep, and keeps me there, as well as Tylenol PM.
  5. Slippers. I actually wear slippers the whole flight. They keep my feet warm, they feel soft, and it adds to that “cozy” feeling that helps me sleep. Plus they are great for midnight trips to the lav.
  6. Eye mask. Flight attendants, and other passengers, have no regard for my sleep needs! They turn lights on or raise window shades willy-nilly. My eye-mask blocks all of that, helping me sleep uninterrupted.

I’m still hoping for an upgrade on the way out there, and the lie-flat bed will really help me sleep comfortably. However, the flight back is always overbooked and full of Executive Platinums, so I don’t have much hope for Business Class on that one. So I will definitely need all of these items to help me sleep!

Readers, what do you use to sleep while flying internationally?

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  1. I try to book flights that are overnight.

    If I Leave the US in the early afternoon and arriving in Germany at 0600 I will never sleep, regardless of the cabin I am flying in.

    Put me on a flight that leaves at 9pm and I will sleep, even in economy.

  2. Actually the active sleep ingredient in Tyelnol PM is benadryl. You can save your liver some tylenol you don’t need and just go with Benadryl.

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