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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nilong Vyas

Strategies for Sleeping on a Flight

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

Sleeping on flights is almost as elusive as unicorns, to some, so much so that airlines have spent millions on developing their on-flight sleep environments such that their passengers can get some shut-eye on long flights.

Most choose to turn to medications since many are available over the counter these days and are an ‘easy-fix’. However, it's possible to have ‘a good ‘flights sleep’ without medications, it just takes a little planning. It is important to do your research and determine how many time zones you are traveling and what the time will be when you arrive at your particular destination. Plan to either sleep or be awake at your destination based on their time zone. For example, when traveling East to India from the States, many flights arrive at the new country’s morning time. So it is important to sleep on the flight so that you can be awake upon landing along with the ‘natives’. In order to do that, provide the most ideal environment for sleep on the plane.

You may have to go to sleep before your body is ready to sleep. In that scenario:

  • Bring along a great eye mask that does not allow any light to enter into your eyes and is soft to wear and does not get caught in your hair.

  • Find a great set of noise-canceling headphones because it will drown out the excess noise that can be prevalent on planes and it also allows you to listen to quiet music, white noise, or guided meditation through your phone or device to help lull you to sleep.

  • Finally, pack your favorite pair of pj’s and a warm shawl or blanket and make sure to change into them once you board the plane.

Being comfortable and at a comfortable temperature will help you get to sleep. Even if you are unable to fall asleep on the plane, try to get rest and stay away from alcoholic beverages, stay hydrated with plenty of water and limit electronics because the blue light from the devices will stimulate the retina and cause wakefulness.

Upon arrival to your destination (if daytime) ensure lots of light stimulation (sunlight or artificial light) so that it triggers your body to NOT produce melatonin and make you sleepy. Try not to nap and sleep that night at a reasonable time (when the ‘natives’ would be sleeping) and that will help your cycle get back on track.


Dr. Vyas



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