Sometimes the gods smile on you and put you on an empty plane where you’re able to stretch out across multiple seats and get a good night’s rest. Most of the time though you spend your whole flight struggling to fall asleep in a sitting position (and every time you do manage to nod off your head jolts forward and wakes you up again). Try some of these tips the next time you get on a plane and don’t want to spend 12 hours wide-awake watching the terrible in-flight movie choices:
Buy the right kind of travel pillow
You’ve probably tried the classic half-doughnut-shaped travel pillow and been less than impressed. They offer a bit of support but mostly require your neck to bend at an awkward and uncomfortable angle for your cheek to hit the pillow. The secret of the ultimate travel pillow is a combination of memory foam and height. Memory foam offers real support to your head, unlike those thousands of tiny small balls travel pillows are usually stuffed with, and the best pillow height should come right up to your ears. This pillow from Cabeau has won the hearts of well-travelled people all over the world and is worth the investment.
Make the most of a window seat
Aisle seats are great for if you’re constantly nipping to the toilet but if it’s comfort you’re after you need to book a window seat. Sleeping upright is something few can get totally right so being able to lean against the window is going to be a real blessing. The space between your head and the side of the plane is sometimes a bit too big though and you find yourself slipping around uncomfortably. Take an actual pillow (like from off your bed, not a small travel pillow) as part of your carry-on luggage to comfortably wedge between you and the window. The bigger and puffier the better.
Position yourself well
Not only do the awkward positions you find yourself lying in on a plane feel weird, they’re also bad for your body. Folding yourself forwards puts pressure on your spinal discs, crossing your legs restricts blood flow and twists your spine, and sitting up straight for hours at a time takes its toll on your lower back. If you’re stuck in your chair with no chance to spread out the best position is to sit up straight with your chair reclined. Keep your legs stretched out in front of you with a slight bend in them (for blood flow) and put your arms on the armrests to help support your back. For extra comfort get a lumbar support pillow that will sit in the curve of your back and ease that lower back pain that always comes from flying. If you’re not looking to spend extra money on a little pillow just for your back roll up the blanket they give you and pop it in place.
If you want to take sleeping pills be smart about it
They invented sleeping pills for a reason, so if you’ve always really struggled with sleeping on a plane don’t be shy to take one. Just plan carefully. Most sleeping pills knock you out for about 7-8 hours so take into consideration the length of your flight. You don’t want to be shaken awake by the air hostess when you’re totally out of it because you misjudged how much time you had to sleep. If you’ve never taken a sleeping pill before maybe test it out on land before you take one on a plane to see how your body reacts to them. Also bear in mind that these pills will put you to sleep no matter what position you’re in so make sure you’re comfy beforehand so you don’t wake up with a sore neck.
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