May 2, 2022

How to Sleep During Long Flights

Some travelers can drop off to sleep before the plane is even off the ground. If you’re in that group (and we see you), you can probably skip reading this. For the rest of us without that superpower, there are some easy tips that will help you sleep during long flights.

Where you sit matters

The choice of where you sit can be a big deal when it comes to sleeping. Most experts agree that the window seat is the first choice because it gives you something to lean against and people won’t have to climb over you to get out of their seats. They also point out that even though exit rows and bulkhead seats may give you more legroom, those seats often won’t recline. (Not that it matters on Spirit, am I right?) Some flight attendants also suggest avoiding seats near the restrooms and instead try to sit over the wing. Use SeatGuru to learn about the particular attributes of the aircraft you will be on.

The whole reclining seat debate can get pretty heated. The general consensus among frequent fliers is that you paid for it, so you can use it. However, Big Guy Big World always advocates a “Be Kind” approach. Give the person behind you some warning so they can secure their coffee and not get cracked in the head by someone who just throws the seatback hard and fast.

Noise-canceling headphones

These can be pricey, but they can also be a lifesaver. Instead of just muffling sounds, noise-canceling headphones work against the sound. The headphones work by using small microphones on the headphones that “listen” to the sound around you and emit the opposite sound, causing the sounds to cancel each other out. Companies like Bose, Sony and Beats have both headphones and earbuds. The headphones do have the advantage of staying on your head more securely while you sleep during long flights, but the choice is yours.

Wear a Mask

No, not the one for Covid. The one for your eyes. A good eye mask can be worth its lightweight in gold. Even if the cabin lights are dimmed, all those electronic screens around you and the neighbor reading a book can make it feel like Times Square. Some carriers will give you a mask, but those are usually thin and fit like a piece of cardboard and duct tape. A soft, molded mask will block the light more effectively and hold it out from your eye, so you won’t feel pressure. As a bonus, you can use them at your hotel or Airbnb if their curtain situation isn’t great. On a related note, if you have space, consider bringing your own blanket. Just be sure to put your seatbelt over the blanket so the flight attendants won’t need to wonder and wake you up.

Bring a book

We love technology, but in this case, an actual book is better. The book can allow our minds to relax and let us drift in our thoughts. But why the physical book? Science tells us that the blue light coming from electronic screens signals our brains to be awake. So even though your Kindle may hold a thousand books, if you’re trying to fall asleep, go old school.

Sleep Aids

Let’s start by stating that we at Big Guy Big World are not doctors and are not recommending any of these. That said, there are people who use everything from natural aids, like Melatonin to prescription sleeping medications. In a travel situation, it may be better to use something that helps you fall asleep, such as melatonin or an herbal tea like valerian root, rather than a medicine that keeps you asleep. In the event of an emergency, being able to wake quickly and clearly is important. Our suggestion is to discuss the situation with your doctor and get their advice. Then whatever the solution is, try it out for a few nights before your trip to make sure there are no adverse reactions. 40,000 feet is a bad place to make that discovery.

There are other things like pillows, hydration and diet that can affect your sleep. Do you have any pro tips about how to sleep during long flights that you can share with your fellow travelers? Let us know in the comments section.

Until next time travelers, be safe, live a full life, be kind and help others. Can’t wait to catch you on our next adventure.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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