Airlines

The best 7 tricks for sleeping on planes

Try these tricks to catch some rest on your next flight.

Try these tricks to catch some rest on your next flight.  (iStock)

People have different priorities when they fly. When you're flying solo, and don't have a companion at 30,000 feet, sometimes sleep is the best activity.

But getting rest in the sky can be difficult with increasinly cramped seats, not to mention unruly seatmates. 

If you don’t want to spend the two days following your flight recovering from it, try some of these tips for an inflight snooze.

Some of the hacks may be obvious — no coffee, alcohol, or junk food. Others are often overlooked.

Don’t be shy, and recline your seat as much as possible, cover your face to block all kinds of light affecting the body’s ability to produce melatonin, make sure you’re hydrated-- and forget about entertaining yourself with the small screen in front of you. 

1. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol is eliminated from the body rapidly and causes withdrawal symptoms two or three hours later, which have a negative reaction. You’ll wake up often, albeit briefly, and not even remember. But still, the quality if your sleep is low. Studies have shown that in healthy people, acute high alcohol doses disturb sleep. Alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns by compromising the body’s ability to return to homeostasis, its normal operating functions.

2. Don't drink caffeiene. 
Coffee wakes you up, increases alertness, and helps you stay focused — all of which are obviously bad if you want to sleep. The safe amount for most healthy adults is 300 to 400 milligrams a day, which is equivalent to two 5-Hour Energy shots, one Starbucks Venti brewed coffee, or two and a half 16-fluid-ounce Monster energy drinks.

3. Have some herbal tea.
Herbal teas, as long as they are decaf, relax you and can make you sleepy. Green tea, for example, contains theanine, an amino acid that encourages sleep. Many people prefer valerian or chamomile tea. Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia.

4. Put your feet up.
This is especially true for shorter people as your feet probably won’t rest firmly on the floor. Use your bag as a footrest if necessary. Taller people should try sitting on a pillow. If you can, curl up in your seat, just like you would on the couch at home. Take off your shoes for extra comfort, if you want-- but be mindful of your smelly feet and seatmates.

5. Have a sleep-inducing snack.
Don’t eat too much. A bloated belly feels very uncomfortable and may get in the way of having a decent slumber. Have a small snack of foods that contain natural substances that help bring on sleep. These include bananas, cherries, hummus, yogurt, walnuts, and honey.

6. Don’t pick the front seats.
Research by EasyJet shows that the most in-demand seat on a plane is 7F near the front of the plane. In general, people will always try to sit in the front because that means they’ll get off the plane faster. But if you want sleep, avoid the busy front area. This is near the restrooms, where the crew prepares food and drinks, and where parents with small kids are likely to be seated. None of these activites are likely to lend themselves to quiet time. 

7. Wear loose clothing.
Dressing comfortably for your flight should be a no-brainer. Wear loose and stretchy clothing; try wearing a soft shirt and definitely wear comfortable undergarments. Loose outfits can also help against deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when your circulation is restricted. Keeping your blood flowing when you’re sedentary is important for your health and comfort.