When traveling abroad, chances are you'd like to try to catch some z's on your flight. If you're a fantastic sleeper (or perhaps a narcoleptic) this may not be an issue. If you're like me however, sleeping at opportune moments isn't quite that simple.
Over the years, I've sought sleep assistance on international flights from just about everything you can think of: lavender oil, bedtime tea, heavy wine pours and getting my physician to write me an Ambien prescription. I've even tried combining all of the above (which, for the record, I wouldn't recommend). All commentary aside, I've learned it really just comes down these 3 simple steps:
1. HYDRATE BEFORE THE FLIGHT
It's no secret that water consumption is crucial to your overall well-being, but it's especially important before a flight (air cabins have zero humidity, thus drying you out even more). Not only does this dehydration contribute to jet lag, but it can also impact your quality of sleep. Knowing this, most people make the common mistake of chugging as much water as they can before and during their flight, which (as you can imagine) leads to many trips to the less-than-luxurious bathroom facilities. Rather than overdoing it during or right before a flight, make a conscious effort to be drinking water non-stop throughout the day in the lead up to your flight. If you're someone that won't remember to drink water throughout the day, try chugging lots of it the morning of your flight rather than the hours right before. And be sure to have a water bottle with you on the flight so you can take small sips at your convenience, rather than drinking a full glass all at once during the in-flight service. Some of my favorites include this Hydro Flask if you prefer water that's always cold, this Camelback or this glass water bottle if you want to avoid drinking out of plastic, and also this S'well bottle if you're looking for a fun print.
2. GET COMFORTABLE
You probably wouldn't sleep in stiff jeans or leather leggings at home in your bed, so avoid doing so on your flight. I find the best "travel uniform" to be lots of layers that include: leggings (also here and here), a light weight tunic (also here), some sort of wrap or scarf (here, here, and here)
But aside from the clothes you wear, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cozy, so know what works for you. If you're a cuddler + need something to snuggle against, book a window seat. If you're someone that needs neck support, bring a neck pillow. If you always sleeps with a sleep mask at home, bring one with you on the plane. If your feet are perpetually cold, bring some warm socks. Don't just buy the stuff you see in SkyMall because it promises you'll sleep like a baby-- you know what works for you. Do that.
3. KNOW WHEN TO CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS
You can do all the right things and sometimes, you just still can't sleep. Sure, it doesn't hurt to try things like lavender oil or bed time tea, but if you know you're a terrible sleeper, you may want to go ahead and plan for more drastic measures. If stretching out in first/business class isn't in your price range, talk to your doctor about a sleeping pill. I had never successfully slept on a plane prior to my first trip to Europe and I knew when we landed in Rome I would want to hit the ground running, not nap. I made an appointment with my General Physician to explain my predicament. She wrote me an RX for 4 tabs of Ambien and advised me to try one at home in my own bed prior to my travels (to ensure it worked for me and I didn't have some freak incident during my flight.) It worked like a charm. Proceed with caution however: there are tons of sleep aids on the market (ZzzQuil, Melatonin, etc.) and everyone reacts differently to them all. Whatever you think may work for you, I'd recommend taking my doctor's advice and trying it at home first before any travels.
Any other tricks you've learned to help you sleep on a plane? Let me know in the comments below!
Safe travels, friends!