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The How-To Lounge: Get Rest on a Red Eye Flight

Red eye flights are good because you don't waste valuable daytime hours flying. But, if you can't get any sleep during your flight and you just show up grumpy, it kind of defeats the purpose of traveling at night. I used to be terrible at sleeping on airplanes, but now I've learned some good tricks so that I can arrive at my destination fairly well-rested.

I'd love to hear what works for you, so please share in the comments below. To see my ideas for things to try,

  • Cut down on caffeine the day leading up to your flight. If you can't cut out the morning coffee entirely, you should at least avoid any afternoon pick-me-ups.
  • Choose your seat wisely. The exit row and bulkhead (first row) seats offer the most legroom. Be wary of the last row or the rows right in front of the exit row, because these seats often don't recline!
  • Invest in a travel neck pillow; I particularly like the inflatable versions, because they fold up easily in your bag. You can't count on airlines to provide pillows anymore, and this style best simulates the effect of lying down in bed.
  • While you're at it, you might also consider buying a sleep mask. These will help block out neighbors' reading lights and keep you from getting distracted.
  • Ask your doctor about the new varieties of prescription sleeping pills, such as Ambien and Sonata. Obviously, you should let your doc make the call on this one, but many of today's sleeping pills are light enough to use for a flight and won't make you groggy when you land.
  • Block out noise with earplugs, or listen to soothing music through a pair of noise-canceling headphones.


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