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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.


Join The Conversation
bugness bugness 9 years
I just flew home yesterday and decided that I should always use a sleep mask. Also, on long flights, make sure to keep your feet warm and your nose moist (sounds weird but putting chapstick around your nostrils keeps them from drying out). It sucks to wake up and be freezing cold and dried out. Also, keep water handy. I love dramamine, lol. It's not good for short flights, though. I always get this Donnie Darko effect... when I wake up from Dramamine sleep and I walk around, I feel like my mind is trying to catch up with my body.
davisdavis davisdavis 9 years
I won't lie, it's a double gin & tonic and I'm out like a light.
skiwi skiwi 9 years
my two tips: 1. if possible, bring your own little fleece blanket. this is guaranteed to make u feel more comfortable! (although you may fee like your 4 years old again) :P 2. try not to focus so hard on trying to fall asleep. just don't think about it, watch a movie, and you'll find yourself dazing off before no time!
Liz4aker Liz4aker 9 years
I dont like the feeling of sleep masks so throw on my sunglasses. If you have any sleep habits, try those also. I go in the lavatory and wash my face and brush my teeth. Habits like that signal your brain it is time to sleep. The week before you travel, at bedtime you should also play a play list of soothing music you plan to play on your ipod on the flight. It will later signal your brain it's time to sleep.
SeptemberLights SeptemberLights 9 years
2 tylenol pm and a vodka martini before boarding! you wont even notice the plane taking off...LOL
starofsorrow starofsorrow 9 years
I usually cannot sleep at all on moving vechiles, due to my being hypersensitive to the vibrations of the vechiale itself. I'm actually considering asking my doctor to prescribe me some sleep pills for my road trip in the next few weeks....oi!
telewyo telewyo 9 years
I always take Badger Sleep Balm with me when I travel. It's all natural beeswax with some relaxing oils like Bergamot and Lavender. I had my doubts when a friend told me to use it but if you rub some on your temples, and I use it as chapstick too, the smell is amazingly relaxing. Also, if you use it before bed every night the week before your trip it really sort of trains you to fall asleep quickly. I usually have a horrible time getting to sleep when I travel and I hate medicine that knocks you out (I usually don't feel great the next day) so this stuff is an absolute miracle for me. You can get it a lot of places, I usually order through Magellan’s Travel but I'm sure there are a billion other places if you google it.
blingbling blingbling 9 years
I'm a flight attendant and fly international for a living. When I'm on crew rest I try to sleep, but even I admit the seats are too freaking uncomfortable. Since my rest is only a couple of hours (and since I'm at work) I can't take drugs, but I have an inflatable neck pillow and I have ambient sleep music I play on my ipod to try to drown out the noise. sometimes it works...
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I just try my best to enjoy myself haha...i have been on SO many fligths in my life...some to Europe, some to Fiji (that was a LONG one) and I have just learned to listen to my body and do what I feel and usually I feel ok the next day too.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
Two Dramamine always work wonder for knocking me out on long flights.
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
I have a neck pillow and Tylenol PM for such occasions.
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