Hi, I can never sleep on the plane . I wish I could so I will be more relax when I reached my destination .Is there something that others do to help sleep in the plane without feeling lousy or lethargic when the plane lands? Thanks
It's difficult to sleep on the plane for me, too. Especially in what I call sardine class. I found out that beer help me put to sleep. But not wine. Wine put me in party mood. Try beer before you fly if it helps.
"Is there something that others do to help sleep in the plane without feeling lousy or lethargic when the plane lands?" Yes. A well-timed dose of Ambien. For trans-Atlantic flights, I usually take the pill just as the airplane takes off, and I'm usually asleep about an hour later. I usually wake up about 2-3 hours before the plane lands. Jet lag still hits, but not as bad as it would if I hadn't slept at all.
Talk to your doctor, and if you decide to use any kind of medication, make sure you know how it affects you before you fly.
Sleeping on a plane depends on so many things, like who is sitting near you, can you put the window shade down, is there turbulence? I would not take any drug for the first time on a long flight, talk to your doctor first and try it at home a few times.
A friend of mine eats a turkey sandwich and drinks a glass of milk. puts on her eyeshades and white-noise sound blocker, takes a travel pillow and says she wakes up in a good mood. I just get on the plane, set my watch to the arrival time zone, and hope for the best.
I take drugs. My flight is 12 hours or more so drugs are well gone by the time I land,, and I only take a low dose Ativan and a meletonin.. please discuss what is best for you with doctor.. different people do /need different things. If you elect to take any medicine at all.. even over the counter.. TRY IT BEFORE you leave. Since sometimes people react to sleep medicines in the opposite way ( especially over the counter stuff, can make some people hyper) you do not want to use it for first time at 30,000 feet!
I also have two blow up neck pillows. One for neck, and one I underinflate and use in small of my back. I travel with a scarve I drap over my face and shoulders too.
I don't drink alcohol on planes.
I try not to eat heavy foods.
I have slippers or warm socks so I can remove shoes and feet stay warm.
sally This is not original thinking, and I don't always follow it myself.
Start by trying to adjust to the current local time at your destination, a few days before your trip. Start going to bed earlier, as early as you can. Stop or limit consumption of caffeine for a couple of days. During flight, don't eat the heavy meal they serve. Just a light snack (its late night or early morning at your destination, so your body is confused if you are digesting a big meal during sleep time). No alcohol or caffeine on flight. Forget about the movie. Put on the eyeshades (or sunglasses) and earplugs as soon as you can. Pick a seat where you won't get jostled.
I very rarely could even doze on a plane, but since I have my noise cancelling head phones that helps a great deal. I will try to put on a movie that I have already seen or is kind of boring .... I have comfortable clothes on, usually my own small travel pillow, and my own pashmina to use as an extra blanket, or a fleece sleeping bag (if it is winter) I can often get some sleep this way. Having the movie on actually helps me to sleep as it drowns out the typical airplane noise. I have also found that even if I do not sleep I feel much more rested not hearing that annoying sound of the airplane engine. This has worked on about my last 6 or so international flights once I figured it out. I don't take any sleeping drugs and usually don't have any wine on the plane, and certainly no caffeine but once or twice took a Benadryl and that may have helped.
I can't sleep on a plane no matter what. I've tried everything. Even a professional massage at a Canadian airport in between flights. I've taken valium, benedryl, and last time a sleeping pill that works well here at home. The sleeping pill, for me, was the worst. It did not make me sleep at all, it made me feel very weird and very anxious. I've found that taking a flight that leaves in the evening is the best for me (for little or no jet-lag). We fly from San Francisco so it's a long haul, especially if we have to change planes. I just stay as relaxed as possible, and I accept that the uncomfortable seats, lack of leg room, recycled air, noise, babies crying, seat in front of me in my lap, people using the back of my seat every time they get up or down, and bad food is just a reality. I try not to stress about it and just consider myself lucky that I get to go to Europe. I usually don't have much jet-lag, but if I do, I just ignore it and stay active. I also walk the plane every hour, and at the back of the plane where there's more room, I do a lot of stretching and I drink a lot of water. No one hates flying more than I do but I just stay calm and grateful that at least I'm going somewhere fun... : )
Well, I was going to say, try one of the day flights, but you're in San Francisco.....So, what I've done is take a Tylenol PM. I also use ear plugs, a face mask and I have plenty of water near by and a blanket and pillow. I find that I can sleep a few hours and then the excitement of the trip carries me through the day. I try to do outdoor things when I arrive. I have plans rather than going with the flow. I try to hold off dinner until after six and try not to go to bed until 9PM. All of that helps me to get on track with vacation by day two.
For me, sleep is not really the point. My goal on the flight is to shift my circadian clock to avoid jet lag.
Of course sleep is welcome too, but if I slept the whole time and did not shift my clock I would be worse off. That's why things like booze and some kinds of sleeping pills are not recommended.
I know that I won't sleep going in either direction, so I try and enjoy the flight as much as possible. I always get a window seat cause I like looking at the scenery below as well as the clouds, stars, moon, sunset and sunrise. Iceland Air to Seattle has been my favorite route so far. I watch all the movies I haven't had a chance to watch in Frankfurt, maybe read a bit. I guess I have been lucky as all the flights I have been on, I have enjoyed the food. Air Canada last year, was probably the best food I have had on a flight. No booze, no sleeping pills. Figure it is just like being in college, where you stay up all night studying and go to class the next day, fortified with lots of good coffee. Perhaps a short nap on arrival day, but no more than 1-2 hours. Go out and about and keep yourself busy. Early to bed that night.
Even though I'm on the west coast, I pretty much do the same thing Pamela does. On the rare direct flight, we go for an afternoon departure. Once we land, we just stay busy, eat at our location's mealtimes and make ourselves last til 9 p.m. Our usual luck mean a layover somewhere, but we try to get a flight that will mimic our sleep time. I make sure I have something that will work as a quasi blanket-big scarf/wrap or coat. My husband can sleep, but the best I can do is twilight sleep. A key that helps us is having a definite, early plan for day #2, after the excitement of day 1 has worn off. Something that gets us up and moving early helps.
I had NEVER been able to sleep on any flights. I loved just sitting there and watching my husband sleep for virtually the entire flight. We typically take an evening flight from San Francisco, and I would eat dinner and then give it a try - it never worked. I even took an Ambian one time which does work at home - nothing. Then, as prescribed by my doctor, I took 1 Dramamine and an anxiety pill. Took these after the dinner service was done and for the last 2 trips got about 3 hours sleep each time. I also walk a lot and drink lots of water. I'm in pretty good shape when we land.
i can sleep on a plane, but the quality of it will suck royal. I just stay awake, read, watch movies and try to learn a language or parts of it. i will sleep really good though the first night.
For all of you that can't sleep - - why? Fear of dying? Excitement about going somewhere? Vibration and noise?
And, does there seem to be a correlation between not sleeping and jet lag?
I'm generally gone by the end of the climb and come to when the gear drops or maybe even at touch-down.
What's happening in your gourds?
A thought about sleeping on the plane: A friend (age 23) arrived from a non stop flight of about 5 hours and began to experience shortness of breath a day into her trip here. Finally a trip to a doctor, ER and ICU, she had a pulmonary embolism probably from sleeping on the plane the whole way. Treatment lasted 5 days in ICU with continued heparin injections at home and a train ride back to the east coast.
I do try to sleep while flying without a lot of success but it is worth checking into prevention from an MD. Whether aspirin is recommended, or special stockings and some leg exercises. I am pretty aware of this now and this is a life threatening though uncommon complication.
For all of you that can't sleep - - why? Fear of dying? Excitement about going somewhere? Vibration and noise? And, does there seem to be a correlation between not sleeping and jet lag? ... What's happening in your gourds?
@Ed - that's a good question. I used to be able to sleep for a couple hours on the flight to Europe. For my last 2 trips, I couldn't sleep at all. Most of my problem involves an inability to get comfortable. I think I have bad circulation in my legs - I have to keep shifting positions if I'm not lying down. If my head isn't completely supported, I'm uncomfortable and can't sleep. I actually like the sound of the engines; it serves as white noise for me and blocks out a lot of cabin noise such as people talking, kids crying, etc.
On the way home, I don't bother trying to sleep. I watch bad movies and read and enjoy looking at land below when we reach North America. At home, jet lag lasts for about 2 weeks - I fall asleep at 9:00pm and wake up at 5:00am, a novelty since I'm a night person normally.
I've noticed a definite correlation between no sleep on the plane and terrible jet lag in Europe. When I could sleep, after I landed I was able to stay up for the rest of the day and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Now, I fall asleep at 10:00am and nap for 3 hours. At night, I'm wide awake until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. This only lasts between 24 and 48 hours and is not a deterrent of traveling at all. I chalk it all up to getting older. :)
Ed, I can't sleep on a plane because I can't sleep sitting up, I can only sleep lying down. It has nothing to do with my fear of flying. I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to know about it for 10 or more minutes at high altitude in a plane!
For me, there doesn't seem to be a correspondence between not sleeping on the way over and jet-lag. Like Sarah, I do have terrible jet-lag for a week or two after getting back home.
For some reason, men seem to have an easier time sleeping, anywhere, than women. That's based on my own un-scientific observations... : )
Ed - I can't sleep on a plane for a couple of reasons, but I understand others may have their reasons:
1) In a previous life I was on a minimum of 2 flights a week between domestic cities. Sometimes as many as 5 or 6 per week. It was almost always during "business hours" and I would feel guilty because I wasn't attending to company business during those times. I guess I trained myself NOT to sleep, but to stay busy working. I did this for almost 5 years.
2) On longer, international flights, I'm too excited and keyed up to sleep because of the anticipation of the good times to be had.
For example, our last long international flight was from Houston to Bonaire (30 miles north of Venezuela) for a diving trip. Flight left at around 11:00pm local time and arrived around 7:00am local time in a packed 737. My wife slept like a baby, and all I could do was twiddle my thumbs. I had been up since 7:00 the previous morning and stayed up until 10:00pm that night, running on pure adrenaline. Managed 3 dives, too!
So, I guess for me, it's just the thought and anticipation of new adventures. BUT, going to try melatonin this trip. I ain't as young as I used to be you know!
Use United Wide body flights (767,777)
180 degree flat 6 ft bed chairs.... AND an ambien, sleep after dinner not an issue.....
"a pulmonary embolism probably from sleeping on the plane the whole way"
@Claire, how do you know sleeping on the plane caused the embolism? I'm not a doctor, but I have flown a lot, even sleeping on the longer flights, and have never had an embolism. I'm pretty sure they are more likely caused by inactivity rather than by sleep (since people who don't sleep can get them, too). But the likelihood is very small either way. To help avoid the issue, you should get up and walk around periodically, do some stretching or some seat yoga, something so that you are not sitting in one position for several hours without a break.
@Ed, no, not a fear of dying, just plain can't get comfortable. ~Perhaps~ there is some fear of drooling lol, but I can get past that.
I have decided I like to leave on the international portion in the evening. Sometimes that works from the boonies where I Iive, sometimes not. I royally goofed up the first int'l flight I arranged last year and not only did I have a 6 hr layover in Seattle (unavoidable when leaving from the local airport) but I gave us 6 hours in AMS. Ugh. What perked the whole group up was a shuttle tour hurtling thru Rome at rush hour.
@Nancy. Sorry. I'm sure it was inactivity. She did sleep the whole way (it was a red eye) and didn't get up. So, yes, inactivity for sure. And that's what the doctor's said as well..
"Use United Wide body flights (767,777)
180 degree flat 6 ft bed chairs"
David, Lucky you! I think I might be able to sleep under those conditions... ; )... I would love to fly like that... I'm the one at the back of the plane in sardine class lucky to be going at all!
I'm one of those who has never been able to sleep on flights for a variety of reasons- not tired, can't get comfortable, sitting up, airplane noise, conversations/babies crying around me, to name a few. However, since I've traveled with my Bose headset and Brookstone neck pillow, at least I can close my eyes and mentally zone out with a movie, ipod, etc. On one of my trips to China, even though in business class, I watched 5 movies back to back and didn't sleep a wink. I also deal with boredom playing Suduko on my Ipod. I've been know to stare at the screen of the plane flying over the "world" for a while also. I prefer an aisle seat so I can get up and walk the aisles and hang out in the back/near the galleys for 30 minutes at a time. The good news about not sleeping on planes, is that as long as I can push through day 1 until about 9 pm, then I sleep pretty solid for 10 hours, and wake up the next morning refreshed and without jet lag. If I truly am not able to function upon arrival, I may take a nap for 1-2 hours if we can check into our hotel early- but set the alarm and get up and stay out until time for bed.
"A friend (age 23) arrived from a non stop flight of about 5 hours and began to experience shortness of breath a day into her trip here. Finally a trip to a doctor, ER and ICU, she had a pulmonary embolism probably from sleeping on the plane the whole way. "
There's probably quite a few details that we're missing from this story, because millions of people sleep on planes every year and don't suffer from pulmonary embolisms. I'm not asking for you to share any confidential medical information about your young friend, but she probably already had one or two pre-existing risk factors. Young people hardly ever get pulmonary embolisms without something else going on, besides merely sleeping on a plane. The prolonged sleep was probably the final link in the chain, however.
Last year we took a trans-atlantic cruise to get there it was cheaper than flying - I highly recommend it if you have the time. I was able to book those United, wide body, first class, lay down, we can't do enough for you seats for the way home using SAVER miles! I am ruined now. Next year when we go for six weeks we fly there using miles for the lovely seats and return on the QM2.
That being said when flying - especially going - I am usually too ramped up to sleep. I will have a glass of wine with dinner - this helps to relax me a bit. I do try to at least be still for a while and shut my eyes and "twilight" . I put the headphones on to the classical music turned up just loud enough to be heard over the engines.
I used to be able to sleep a little on a plane. Betting than not sleeping at all. But this last time, I went to Rome in September 2013 the seats were so uncomfortable it was difficult even to enjoy watching a movie. Never mind sleeping!!! I read that they are making the seats smaller, less padding of the seats and that the seats are more uncomfortable. The airlines are adding more seats to the plane, so they want to make the seats smaller and lighter which means more uncomfortable for the passenger. It has always been difficult to take a long flight, but this last time was pure torture for me! And I am only 5'1'' and under 130 lbs. I also noticed the seats were closer together, meaning there was not much room from the seat in front of me. There is nothing you really can do about it.
That was the plane I had going to room, coming back it must have been an older plane, because that seat was much more comfortable, but even then, you still are packed on like sardines! That is what flying has come to these days!
Christi, it would be my dream come true to go to and/or come home from Europe on a ship... lucky you!
Well we try and book economy plus seating when we can.. since neither of us travel for business its hard to get enough miles to do anything much with.. so upgrading to econ plus is as good as it gets.. I did however fly first class to Paris a few years ago.. treated myself after a bad year( mom passing etc) and I can assure you that flying first class makes the trip 1000% more pleasant.. you actually arrive feeling like a human being not a exhausted mass of aching muscles and sore eyes..
So.. my opinion is.. if you are flying first class and can't sleep.. think of the rest of the sardines in the back of the plane who are actually suffering!lol
Taking a ship over would be nice, plus no jet lag! For us west coasters though we would still have to fly 5-6 hours at least to get to the ship!
I am in the ear plugs, eye shade, blanket, pillow, tylenol PM group! I also skip the dinner meal - I take the Tylenol PM about an hour before takeoff, and I can usually fall asleep right after takeoff and wake up just in time for breakfast. I read that jet lag is worse going from west to east - but for me it's the opposite. I usually don't experience much going to Europe, but went to Australia once, and had the worst jet-lag ever - fell asleep at dinner the first couple of nights, and it took me the entire two week trip to get adjusted. Our last night there was the only night I was able to stay awake past 9 PM!
All I have to say is, I am envious of all of you who aren't afraid of flying. I used to be fine with it, but over the last few years, I have developed tremendous anxiety that makes it hard to remain calm, let alone sleep. I tried Xanax on my last trip, but that didn't really work, so I am going back to the doctor for some other type of anti-anxiety medication or perhaps a sleeping pill. If I could just knock myself out for 6 hours, that would be great.
I do have a fear of flying and current events have my neuroses on high alert. Sleeping is part of my coping mechanism. Flying from the East Coast, I usually take about 1/2 - 2/3 of an Ambien immediately after dinner,
I travel aisle seat only and only need to tilt my seat back a few inches to get a little support for my head and neck pillow. I run cold-blooded so I substitute shoes for warm slipper socks, a hoodie helps block ears, and a pashmina adds extra warmth &r can cover your face. As long as I can feel cozy, I can let the Ambien take over. I waken naturally around the time we hit daylight, and it's out of my system by the time we deplane,
If you try something like Ambien, try it at least a week or two before your trip so you can see how quickly it works for you, how long it lasts, and how quickly it leaves your system. Some can get the same effect with Diphenhydramine, but for me, I am groggy for hours the next morning. And with Ambien, no beer, wine, or alcohol with dinner.
I just got a prescription for Ambien to try for my flight to England in a few months. Of course I will try it at home first (1/2 tab) to see how it works, but the thought of having a beer on board as we fly off into the sunset is very appealing (and what I would normally do on a shorter flight). I know not to do both, but I think this will require some serious research...
I bring Midnite along (melatonin) as a back-up, but find that I usually doze off after they feed me. The only thing that's ever kept me from a good snooze on a plane is a fussy child! I don't seem to suffer from jet lag in either direction, and so I'm making a point to book my flights going to Europe to leave San Francisco between 11 am-3 pm and arrive at about the same time the next day, local time. My intermittent cat naps seem to ensure I'll be perky enough to get to my hotel, explore for a few hours and have dinner. When I come home I leave early, 6 am-9am and arrive home early afternoon. I never seem to sleep on the return flight.
What a great thread. Normally the best I can do on a long flight is restlessly doze a little. Several years ago my company sent me to London for a one-day meeting. I selected flights over and back during the daytime before/after and just got work done on the plane. I went to bed an hour or so after reaching the hotel - I think it was about 8:00 London time. Overall it was a good plan for me, even though I still had the time shift to contend with. I was alert and awake for the all-day meeting and felt pretty good. And I got two great nights of sleep in a real bed before and after the meeting. My spouse can always sleep for an entire flight (diagnosed low heart rate actually), so he would probably consider flying during the day a tedious waste of time. At least one of us in in condition to drive the rental car : )
Here is something that worked for my sister and I. We are both under 5'2". I cannot remember where I read this idea, but it helped us. We bought cheap blow up beach balls that we inflated about 2/3 of the way. Yes, you will get some strange looks at first. We did this after we ate our evening meal and put them under our legs and feet. This way we were able to curl our legs up sideways and were able to sleep much better. As we are short our legs barely reach the floor of the plane anyway. This probably does not work if you are a tall person, sorry.
@ Christa...yes, true, sleeping on the way back to SFO is much harder, if not impossible, maybe for a host of reasons: already planning the next trip, flying against the wind as opposed to going over when the wind is at your back, it's only SFO anyway., etc.
Mentally, I'm set for a 10-11 hr non stop flight going over, be it FRA, London, or Paris CDG. You're sleping not only for rest and energy reasons but to while the time way.
When you cross that "bridge" at the Sheraton at CDG, it hits you! You're there period. True, with all the distractions, fussy kid, uncooperative neighbors, etc. (very taxing), I am going to get my sleep min six hours, zone out regardless, so that upon landing sometime between 0900 to 1100 time local time, I'm set to go regardless whether I can check in or not.
Where I've encountered not being allowed to check in prior to official time (consistently) is London. Frankfurt, Paris, Munich, Vienna, etc all have allowed me at check in when I show up at 0900 or earlier.
I just cannot sleep sitting up. Plus, I am always afraid I would start snoring (or drooling!) . This keeps me alert. and awake. :-)
So, I simply make the best of it and enjoy my flight as best as I can. I don't know if I pick the right flights or what, but most of the meals I have had have been decent and I always look forward to the meals. Flying is still an adventure, and I like to look out of the windows and watch movies.
I have read all of the replies, and none of them seemed to address my problem. On my last international flight, I had the misfortune
to sit across the aisle from an extremely inconsiderate traveler. He turned his bright overhead light on, turned it in my direction, and promptly went to sleep for the entire flight! Being a considerate traveler myself ( and somewhat timid), I didn't want to wake him up to complain. Should I have asked the flight attendant to turn the light off or redirect it? I think I would have been able to sleep if his light wasn't shining directly in my eyes. Thank you!
jgsmom.. thats a good idea.. I am not as petite as you .. but think it might work for me ( 5.6) .. the hanging legs is one reason I bet our feet swell so bad.. plus its cold down there by the floor. I can grab one of those balls for like 2-3 bucks at a dollar store here so if it doesn't work its no big deal.
What Stan said. Plus. I click my seat back one click, bundle up to keep warm, ignore the entertainment console, and keep my eyes closed for a few hours. I almost always get SOME sleep this way. I have tried all the tricks with RX and over the counter drugs; I prefer going without.
Upon landing, whether I've slept or not, I get moving and drink some coffee pretending it is daytime. (It is). I feel almost normal but don't attempt anything challenging. After a few hours I get into my room, relax and rest, then find a meal somewhere. Bedtime comes anytime after dark. I may be awake at odd times during the night, but feel normal the next day. My practice is to fly into London, stay overnight, then usually take the Eurostar to Paris.
Thanks so much for all your feedbacks. There are many good suggestions. I do feel nervous a day or two before my flight but when I am in the plane, I am not anymore as I tell myself there is nothing I can do.
Going there, even without sleep, I am so excited so I have all this adrenaline that keeps me going. It is when I come back home that jetlag sets in as I am back to reality which means one day rest before work starts.
I can't sleep sitting up either. Putting my bag or anything else under my feet makes me feel more comfortable. But I swear by homeopathic No-Jet-Lag pills (get them online). They really help 85% of people feel less fatigued on arrival and throughout the day!
I do HALF a Tylenol PM. If I do a whole one I feel drugged even after 8 hrs.
I have never been able to sleep in any moving vehicle, planes included; the best I can do is close my eyes and try really hard, and I might get a couple hours' light doze, but nothing resembling actual sleep. There's just too much going on, and I can't tune it out long enough for my brain to turn out the lights, even with earplugs, mask, etc. I have a routine down now, though - depending on how I feel, I might take a nap once I arrive and get settled, but for no more than 45-60m, and I can usually make it to 9-10pm before I can't brain anymore. I'll stay in bed for about 10 hours, and usually by that point I'm okay.
I also shift my bedtime back a few hours before I leave - two weeks out, I might get up at 7am every day for a while, one week out I get up at 6am every day, and for the last two days I get up at 5-5:30. That pushes me closer to the local time. I also had the advantage of traveling between the US Daylight Savings and the European Daylight Savings changeover, so I was only 5/6 hours off instead of 6/7 like it is most of the year.
I've had a hard time with the jet lag coming home this trip, though, and I don't know why. I've been going to bed early as normal, but I keep waking up and by the time I get up, it's like walking around in a fog. It'll sort itself out within a couple of days, but I hate feeling so draggy.