Posted: April 21, 2014

5 Tips for Getting Restful Sleep on the Plane
If you have trouble falling asleep during flights, try these basic tips for getting some slumber aboard the plane.

Whether you're traveling to a domestic or international destination, the plane ride there is so much more delightful when you can sneak in some peaceful slumber. Unfortunately, many people have trouble sleeping during a flight – loud noise, fear of flying, bright lights and crowded spaces all add to the obstacles that get in the way of some shut eye. But these simple tips can help both business and leisure travelers get some restful sleep as the pilot guides you to your destination:

Dress to Rest

Come prepared to sleep on the plane. That doesn't mean arriving at the airport in your pajamas or even sweat pants. But you can select clothes that are conducive for dozing off, such as breathable, cotton pants and a loose-fitting shirt (too-tight clothing can impede your circulation and be just plain uncomfortable). You may also want to dress in layers to adjust to the plane's temperature. For long-haul flights, it may be appropriate to bring pajamas to change into, and many people take off their shoes while in their seats (though it's wise to put them back on anytime you get up to walk around).

Create a Familiar Environment

While some can snooze just about anywhere at any time, people often have trouble falling asleep in new or unusual places. If that's the case with you, try making your seating area as much like your bed as possible. Bring a sweater that smells like your significant other, or pack that blanket that you use when you fall asleep on the couch for a quick afternoon nap. If you tend to fall asleep while reading a book at night, be sure to pack some reading materials in your carry-on, or listen to some soothing music that helps relax you.

Block Out Distractions

Coming prepared for the hectic conditions of the cabin is essential, especially if you're a light sleeper. Earplug or noise-cancelling headphones can help keep out the sounds of babies crying, passengers chatting and people walking by, while a sleeping mask can provide you with the darkness you need to drift off to dreamland. Another key to avoiding distractions is to put away your cell phone and laptop – it's all too easy to check text messages or emails when your devices are at hand.

Avoid Stimulants

It's tempting to indulge in a glass of wine or cocktail while you're on your flight, particularly if it's complimentary, but even one drink can make it difficult to sleep. Alcohol is, after all, a stimulant. If you feel a drink will help relax you into a deep rest, be sure to stop at one – too many will keep you getting up to use the bathroom, and the dehydration can lead to a nasty headache and hangover. You may also benefit from avoiding other stimulants, such as cigarettes and coffee, prior to boarding the plane.

Select the Right Seat

Choosing the best seat for sleep can make all the difference. A window seat is ideal for most, because it allows you to lean to the side and rest your head, and it also means no one will be climbing over you or bumping your elbow to get to the bathroom. If possible, avoid sitting near the bathroom, as this area tends to be noisier. In fact, the front of the plane, which is generally the quietest because it's away from the bathrooms and in front of the engines (which can push noise outward toward the back of the plane), is the optimal spot for ultimate relaxation.

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