Jan 12, 2019

 

I have a theory that the babies are out to get me. Flight after flight, no matter where I choose to sit (away from me, bassinet seats!) or which flight to take (maybe families tend to fly in the evenings? Better try a morning flight), I always seem to be near a tiny human who is unhappy about being squished up in economy class for 10 hours straight and vents their frustration audibly. I know they can't help it (and I feel for their poor parents, who are getting much more of an earful than me) - sometimes, long flights make me want to scream too.

But I also get very grumpy on less than 8 hours sleep, and since I cannot afford a seat in business class (the magical land of personal space and a real reclining seat) I am already fighting a losing battle thanks to seats that require me to hug my knees. Add in a screaming infant (or overly chatty nearby passenger who fails to pick up the headphones-mean-I-want-to-stop-talking-now cues) and I'm basically resigned to zombie eyes and a bad mood.

Fortunately, I have a scientifically formulated (not really) way to increase the likelihood of sleeping on long-haul flights. Today, I'm sharing them so you can prepare. Any of these steps should help in isolation, but they achieve superpower status when combined.

PICK YOUR SEATS WITH CARE

You think a window seat is a good idea until you're stuck between the armrest-stealer in the seat next to you and the hard wall separating you from the freezing air outside. Since many of the longer international flights continue through the night, you probably won't have a view of anything but blackness out that window anyway. Rather choose an aisle seat for the few extra centimeters of leg room.

Since people tend to flock to window seats, don't choose an aisle seat nearest the windows either - go for the central column of seats in the middle of the cabin to increase your chances of an open seat next to you on a plane that isn't fully booked. If they're not already taken, try to get an aisle seat in the last row of the cabin - that means you can push your chair back and no one behind you will complain or kick your seat. Bonus!

Another benefit of this seat is that you can also store your belongings and unwanted aircraft paraphernalia (extra pillows, etc.) under your own seat instead of in the space in front of you. More space = higher chance of sleep. Even if you don't secure a spot in the last row of the cabin, consider just keeping your most valuable items with you in the space under the seat in front of you, and put the rest in the overhead compartment. Then you'll have more wriggle room and foot space.


 

WHAT YOU WEAR MATTERS

There are three important things to remember when flying: comfort, comfort and comfort. If you want to achieve the comfort of First Class, we’re talking elasticated waistbands, stretchy materials, sexy flight socks and fluffy jumpers. But if you don’t want to turn up to the airport in your PJs, we understand. Instead bring a comfy set of clothes and get changed once you’re onboard.

Aim to travel in the closest (publicly acceptable) clothing to pajamas. Think stretch fabrics, elasticated waists and fuzzy socks, and a long sleeve top or light jersey so you aren't cold (those thin blankets they give you don't help much). If you wear contact lenses, take them out (don't sleep with them in!) and opt for glasses you can easily remove and place in the seat pouch in front of you when you want to go count sheep.

TRY TO STICK TO YOUR NATURAL SLEEP CYCLE

If you usually pass out at 10pm, don't stay up until 3am watching in-flight movies. However, if you're crossing big time zones, try and adjust as soon as possible to avoid jet lag. In that case, consider staying up until it's an acceptable time for people in your destination country to go to sleep.

The same rules apply as with terrestrial sleep - stay away from sugar, caffeine, lights from gadget screens or series with dramatic plots that will keep your mind whirring. If you want more rest time, consider ordering a special meal when you book your flight (even if you aren't vegetarian). These are delivered before the rest of the food, so you can eat quickly and get back to sleep sooner.

CLOAK YOURSELF IN SILENT DARKNESS

Don't own noise-canceling headphones? Well, you should consider investing in a pair. I'd also take along some slow, soothing music (acoustic folk is good), an eye mask and a neck pillow to reduce distractions and increase comfort levels. 

Buckle your seat belt loosely around your waist over your blanket so you won't be poked and asked to do so if the warning lights go on while you're sleeping. Consider asking your neighbour to tell the air staff not to wake you for meals, if you brought your own snacks or prefer shut eye over sustenance.

Pamper yourself

Now you’re sitting comfortably, it’s time to settle in. A few simple essentials can really amp up the luxury in your Economy seat. It’s no secret that recycled plane air wreaks havoc with your skin so fighting it before it gets out of hand is always a good idea. Go on, treat yourself to those lavish miniatures in Duty Free.

The pamper kit essentials:
  • Lip balm – apply a balm every hour to stop your lips from cracking. A petroleum jelly like Vaseline is great for dabbing on other areas of dry skin too.
  • Face and hand cream – save on your liquid allowance and get a small gentle face cream that’ll work for your hands as well.
  • Face wipes – If you wore make-up to the airport, a face wipe is the quickest and easiest way to remove it at the start of the flight. You’ll save it from smudging all over your face when you fall asleep and your skin will thank you for it when you land.
  • Gel eye patches or a sheet face mask – an easy way to add a touch of luxury to proceedings without breaking the bank. Don’t worry about how terrifying you may look to your fellow flyers – you won’t ever see them again, and they’ll no doubt remember you as the one with the radiant pre-holiday skin.
  • Eye drops – watching the latest blockbusters, reading and sleeping, along with the dry air can take its toll on your eyes. A couple of refreshing eye drops can wake you up ready for the next movie.
  • Tooth brush and toothpaste – if you’re flying overnight or on a long-haul trip, you don’t need to abandon your normal routine. A quick brush will make a huge difference to how you feel.

DON'T GIVE UP

Even if you're spread out over two chairs in a blanket cocoon, chances are you'll be bumped by a passing passenger or awakened by a turbulence announcement at some point. Don't admit defeat and return to the Vampire Diaries box set! Close your eyes and try to settle back in. Maybe you'll only sleep for 2 hours before they wake you up for breakfast -- but it's better than nothing.

Do you struggle to sleep on flights? Watch the video below from Trip Astute!

 

I have a theory that the babies are out to get me. Flight after flight, no matter where I choose to sit (away from me, bassinet seats!) or which flight to take (maybe families tend to fly in the evenings? Better try a morning flight), I always seem to be near a tiny human who is unhappy about being squished up in economy class for 10 hours straight and vents their frustration audibly. I know they can't help it (and I feel for their poor parents, who are getting much more of an earful than me) - sometimes, long flights make me want to scream too.

But I also get very grumpy on less than 8 hours sleep, and since I cannot afford a seat in business class (the magical land of personal space and a real reclining seat) I am already fighting a losing battle thanks to seats that require me to hug my knees. Add in a screaming infant (or overly chatty nearby passenger who fails to pick up the headphones-mean-I-want-to-stop-talking-now cues) and I'm basically resigned to zombie eyes and a bad mood.

Fortunately, I have a scientifically formulated (not really) way to increase the likelihood of sleeping on long-haul flights. Today, I'm sharing them so you can prepare. Any of these steps should help in isolation, but they achieve superpower status when combined.

PICK YOUR SEATS WITH CARE

You think a window seat is a good idea until you're stuck between the armrest-stealer in the seat next to you and the hard wall separating you from the freezing air outside. Since many of the longer international flights continue through the night, you probably won't have a view of anything but blackness out that window anyway. Rather choose an aisle seat for the few extra centimeters of leg room.

Since people tend to flock to window seats, don't choose an aisle seat nearest the windows either - go for the central column of seats in the middle of the cabin to increase your chances of an open seat next to you on a plane that isn't fully booked. If they're not already taken, try to get an aisle seat in the last row of the cabin - that means you can push your chair back and no one behind you will complain or kick your seat. Bonus!

Another benefit of this seat is that you can also store your belongings and unwanted aircraft paraphernalia (extra pillows, etc.) under your own seat instead of in the space in front of you. More space = higher chance of sleep. Even if you don't secure a spot in the last row of the cabin, consider just keeping your most valuable items with you in the space under the seat in front of you, and put the rest in the overhead compartment. Then you'll have more wriggle room and foot space.


 

WHAT YOU WEAR MATTERS

There are three important things to remember when flying: comfort, comfort and comfort. If you want to achieve the comfort of First Class, we’re talking elasticated waistbands, stretchy materials, sexy flight socks and fluffy jumpers. But if you don’t want to turn up to the airport in your PJs, we understand. Instead bring a comfy set of clothes and get changed once you’re onboard.

Aim to travel in the closest (publicly acceptable) clothing to pajamas. Think stretch fabrics, elasticated waists and fuzzy socks, and a long sleeve top or light jersey so you aren't cold (those thin blankets they give you don't help much). If you wear contact lenses, take them out (don't sleep with them in!) and opt for glasses you can easily remove and place in the seat pouch in front of you when you want to go count sheep.

TRY TO STICK TO YOUR NATURAL SLEEP CYCLE

If you usually pass out at 10pm, don't stay up until 3am watching in-flight movies. However, if you're crossing big time zones, try and adjust as soon as possible to avoid jet lag. In that case, consider staying up until it's an acceptable time for people in your destination country to go to sleep.

The same rules apply as with terrestrial sleep - stay away from sugar, caffeine, lights from gadget screens or series with dramatic plots that will keep your mind whirring. If you want more rest time, consider ordering a special meal when you book your flight (even if you aren't vegetarian). These are delivered before the rest of the food, so you can eat quickly and get back to sleep sooner.

CLOAK YOURSELF IN SILENT DARKNESS

Don't own noise-canceling headphones? Well, you should consider investing in a pair. I'd also take along some slow, soothing music (acoustic folk is good), an eye mask and a neck pillow to reduce distractions and increase comfort levels. 

Buckle your seat belt loosely around your waist over your blanket so you won't be poked and asked to do so if the warning lights go on while you're sleeping. Consider asking your neighbour to tell the air staff not to wake you for meals, if you brought your own snacks or prefer shut eye over sustenance.

Pamper yourself

Now you’re sitting comfortably, it’s time to settle in. A few simple essentials can really amp up the luxury in your Economy seat. It’s no secret that recycled plane air wreaks havoc with your skin so fighting it before it gets out of hand is always a good idea. Go on, treat yourself to those lavish miniatures in Duty Free.

The pamper kit essentials:
  • Lip balm – apply a balm every hour to stop your lips from cracking. A petroleum jelly like Vaseline is great for dabbing on other areas of dry skin too.
  • Face and hand cream – save on your liquid allowance and get a small gentle face cream that’ll work for your hands as well.
  • Face wipes – If you wore make-up to the airport, a face wipe is the quickest and easiest way to remove it at the start of the flight. You’ll save it from smudging all over your face when you fall asleep and your skin will thank you for it when you land.
  • Gel eye patches or a sheet face mask – an easy way to add a touch of luxury to proceedings without breaking the bank. Don’t worry about how terrifying you may look to your fellow flyers – you won’t ever see them again, and they’ll no doubt remember you as the one with the radiant pre-holiday skin.
  • Eye drops – watching the latest blockbusters, reading and sleeping, along with the dry air can take its toll on your eyes. A couple of refreshing eye drops can wake you up ready for the next movie.
  • Tooth brush and toothpaste – if you’re flying overnight or on a long-haul trip, you don’t need to abandon your normal routine. A quick brush will make a huge difference to how you feel.

DON'T GIVE UP

Even if you're spread out over two chairs in a blanket cocoon, chances are you'll be bumped by a passing passenger or awakened by a turbulence announcement at some point. Don't admit defeat and return to the Vampire Diaries box set! Close your eyes and try to settle back in. Maybe you'll only sleep for 2 hours before they wake you up for breakfast -- but it's better than nothing.

Do you struggle to sleep on flights? Watch the video below from Trip Astute!

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