The Art of Sleeping on an Airplane

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Since I live across the country from my family and friends, I frequent LAX and EWR about every other month.  Flying days are long, can be quite cumbersome, and can make anyone go crazy from the unexpected delays, loud and careless people...(the list can probably continue for awhile).

So, to make this experience as positive as possible, I have a system set in place that was clearly noticed by another frequent flyer.

As Zach and I walked off our last flight in October, a male flight attendant smiled at me as I exited.  Ever so confidently I smiled back, and walked off the plane.  As I turned around to see where Zach was, he was also smiling at the flight attendant and it looked like they exchanged words.

When Zach caught up to me, I asked what they spoke about.  With a broad smile, he let me know that during the entire flight, I looked like this:

The flight attendant told him to have me teach people how to sleep on an airplane.

So here I am, and I happen to be very proud of my airplane sleeping skills.  I also think that this can be very useful during holiday time...

On our first trip together four years ago, Zach and I took an 11 hour flight to London.  I fell asleep right after dinner and awoke as breakfast was being handed to me.  Literally, I removed my eye mask, adjusted momentarily to the bright lights, and put my hands out to receive eggs and a croissant.  Yum.  (I also happen to fit in the small category of people who like plane food).

As I was enjoying my delicious meal, I felt Zach’s sharp glare on me the entire time.  He could not remotely fathom that I had slept for 8 hours straight.  I was fully refreshed and ready to explore London!

So here are my secrets:

  1. The night before you fly, try to get a little less sleep than usual.  In my case, this means I get at least 5-6 hours of sleep.  This is not as much as my usual 7-8, but enough that I won’t be cranky and super sensitive to annoying people on my flight.
  2. Prepare a comfortable “Travel Outfit.” I have two of these that I will explore further in a future post; however, they consist of leggings, boots, an enormous sweater or a long (down to my knees), fitted, zip-up hoodie.  They are easy to remove during the security check, comfortable to fly in for hours, yet do not look like you just got out of bed in case you see a client or something.
  3. Pack yourself a little bag inside your carry-on with everything you need for your flight, so you can easily remove it and leave your carry-on in overhead storage (you want to maximize your legroom).
  4. Inside this bag, I keep everything to keep me at ease throughout the flight: my Bose Noise Cancellation headphones (my saving grace), Ipod, Chapstick, hand moisturizer, book, extra socks (I always get cold) and my cloth eye mask.
  5. My musical choice to begin my airplane snooze consists of: Barry Manilow (this seriously works for me), Led Zeppelin, James Morrison, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and Michael Buble.  For some reason, they all help put me to sleep – and I’ve tried everything.
  6. I try to be have at least one drink before I fly so I am already relaxed (try red wine or vodka/sprite).  They have both treated me well during flights.
  7. Once the plane starts, I usually start a movie or read for about an hour, and as soon as I feel the potential to fall asleep, I lie back, turn the head rest sides in, take the mask down to cover my eyes, and VOILA!


And apparently these can work without the eye mask….


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