Last year my buddy Janet Pribanic and I took a 3 month trip around Europe and Africa, finishing up in North America. This was the biggest journey like this that I have ever taken, and as you can imagine I learned a great deal about both myself and travel during that time. One issue which I have had for years is being able to sleep on the plane, the combination of time zone changes, in-flight noise and being uncomfortable always made sleeping an issue, and very often I would arrive at my destination incredibly tired and groggy.
After the months of travel to top destinations however, I believe that I have solved the problem and here is how to go about getting a good sleep on the flight.
Paying For It
The first thing that I will mention is that if you are able to pay for an upgrade to premium or even business class or first class, I wold absolutely recommend doing so. Here you will be more comfortable, you will have more space and you can drift off in peace.
For a long time I used to think that if I had a couple of glasses of wine or rum on the plane when I first got on, that I would be able to sleep well. This is not strictly true however and what happens is that you do fall asleep easily, but the quality of sleep is terrible and you will wake up feeling awful. The best thing to do is to drink nothing but water in the hours leading up to the flight, and on the flight itself. This will ensure that you wake up feeling fresh.
Whether it is screaming children, the noise of the plane itself or crashing and banging of the hostess trolley, planes are noisy places to fall asleep. To overcome this then, I recommend that you either buy some earphones to block the noise out, or some noise canceling headphones so that you can listen to music as you drift off.
A pillow is a great thing to take with you, but I would avoid the pillow that goes around your neck, these are rarely comfortable and you will feel more upright when using it. I prefer a memory foam pillow, which is around 3/4 smaller than a normal pillow for you bed. Once you have your blanket over you, you’ll sink into the pillow and sleep in no time.
Something else which can easily wake you up is the food service, if you don’t want to be woken up, sleep with you tray already down so that the hostess can place the meal and the move on without bothering you. Another tip is to prepare for your new time zone in the days before your trip, and then sleep as if you were already there. This will help both with getting a great sleep, and avoiding jetlag.