How to overcome the distractions of air travel and get a decent sleep at 35,000 feet
Not enough legroom? Too tempted by the latest movies and video games? Screaming children in the row behind you? With all the distractions of air travel, it’s no surprise that it can be tough to sleep on planes.
But choosing the right seat, bringing the right gear and making a few small changes to your flying habits could help you sleep better on your next flight.
Your seat location could be one of the most important factors in how well, or not, you sleep on your next trip. Try to get a window seat if possible; it will give you something to lean against and get you out of the way of other people in your row. You’ll also have some control over the window shade.
Think twice about bulkhead or exit row seats. While the extra legroom is great, some exit row seats do not recline and some bulkhead seats have armrests that can’t be raised.
Another area to avoid is the last row of the plane. Again, the seats may not recline, and they’re often located right near the lavatories, which can be busy and noisy places.
If you have two full carry-on items, one might end up under your feet, limiting your legroom and making it harder to sleep. Instead, pack lighter so you can fit everything into a single bag. Before you stow your bag in the overhead compartment, pull out the important items that you’ll need during the flight and put them in the back of the seat in front of you.
You’ll find it much harder to sleep if you have caffeine coursing through your veins, especially on a daytime flight, where even the view out the window can be a distraction, so limit your tea and coffee input.
There are never enough blankets and pillows to go around. Board early and stake your claim. If there isn’t a set in your seat, immediately ask the flight attendant for one.
TV and movies can keep you up the entire flight so be disciplined with your movie choices – even if they are free to watch.
When reclining your seat you should always look behind you to make sure the coast is clear before pushing the button to relax more. It gives the person behind you a heads up if they have coffee in front of them or have their head down on the tray table.
The animated flash of movie screens, reading lights, cabin lights, sunlight bursting in on an eastbound flight can all disturb your slumber. Get yourself an eye mask. Some airlines provide them, but it’s best to keep one in your travelling kit just to be safe.
If it’s a long flight, consider setting an alarm for 45 minutes before you have to land. That gives you time to go to the restroom and gather your gear prior to touching down.