Sleeping on a Plane – Ten Tips

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Business trips can be gruelling- a jam-packed schedule of days that start with breakfast meetings and that can end with long drawn out dinners. Throw a different time zone in and you could start to feel like you are chasing your tail trying to catch up on sleep. So, it’s important to start your trip as you mean to go on – rested and ready for action. And this begins before you arrive to check in to your hotel.

In an ideal world, all work flights would be first or business class, but sometimes, for whatever reasons, this is not always the case. And any seasoned flyer will tell you that trying to sleep in economy class is an art form. We have compiled a few tips to help you sleep on the plane that really do work.

  1. Seat Selection
    Where you sit plays a huge role in the quality of sleep you get. Ask your travel consultant to book you a window seat. Not only can you use the plane wall to lean on when you do decide to sleep, you won’t be woken up by fellow passengers wanting to get up.
  2. The Quiet Zone
    Your business travel consultant has secured you a window seat, but the position of that seat on the plane can also have a big impact on how well you sleep. Request that your travel agent doesn’t book your seat too close to the lavatories as you might be disturbed if there is a queue. You also want to avoid being too close to the front of the cabin as this is where families with small children are usually seated. And request not to be sitting on the wing because of the noise from the engines.
  3. Buckle Up
    Make sure your seat belt is fastened and visible at all times to avoid being woken up or disturbed in the middle of the night.
  4. Be Water Wise
    Drink plenty of water, but be mindful of overdoing it so as not to spend the night jumping up and down to go to the loo.
  5. Tee-Total
    Avoid alcohol. The effects of alcohol at high altitudes are increased, and while you might think it’ll relax you and help you sleep this will only last a few hours and then you run the risk of waking up and not going back to sleep.
  6. Creature Comforts
    Travel in comfortable clothes. If you have a meeting straight from the flight, pack a change of clothes that are more suitable. It is also a good idea to travel with your own pillow. While the airlines to provide pillows, they are usually very small and not particularly comfortable.
  7. Wrap Up
    Once in the air, it can get very cold in the cabin. Travel with a warm jersey and an extra pair of socks. Even your own rug is advisable – once again the airlines to provide blankets but these are small and on some flights just not warm enough. And the comfort and familiarity of your own blanket will also help you relax and fall asleep faster.
  8. Sleep Aids
    It is not advised to take medication to help you sleep on a plane. This can make you feel groggier when you wake up than no sleep at all. It is also not safe if you are flying alone should something happen on the flight that requires a speedy response. But there are measures you can take to enhance the chance of sleep. Eye masks, ear plugs and Do Not Disturb sign can go a long way to contributing to a peaceful sleep on the plane.
  9. Black Out
    We all know that screens are not great when we are trying to sleep. Make sure you switch your laptop or tablet off at least half an hour before you try to fall asleep, and the same goes for your in-flight entertainment system.
  10. Time Out
    Set your watch to the correct time for your new destination. This will help you acclimate to your new time zone as you can schedule your sleep in when it is time to sleep wherever you are going so that you can being to minimise the effects of the jetlag before you even get there.

If you can start your trip having had a reasonable amount of good quality sleep on the plane you will find that the strain of a busy schedule and the effects of jet lag are significantly lessened simply because you are not starting off on the back foot by trying to catch up on lost hours of sleep. And by implementing these simple steps you can’t go wrong. A good travel agent will always attempt to put together an itinerary that is as ‘business-traveller-friendly’ as possible.

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