Ideas on how to sleep on a long haul flight.

Old Dec 10th, 2019, 05:03 PM
  #1  
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Ideas on how to sleep on a long haul flight.

We are going on a 10 hour overnight flight soon, in business lie flat seats, but I can't sleep very well on those either. When I do wake, I find it very hard to get back to sleep again on a flight, in any class. I've tried earplugs, noise cancelling headphones, and an eye mask. I don't really want to take medication on the flight, but it might have to come to that. Any and all suggestions welcome.
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 05:43 PM
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>>I don't really want to take medication on the flight<<

Is there a reason for that? Even in lie flat beds I usually have to take either an OTC sleep aid or a Temazepam. I usually eat sparingly, have less than 1/2 a glass of wine, and a pill and I sleep for at least 6 hours on a 10+ hour flight. I don't use eyeshades because they really arent comfortable and they lower the lights in the cabin anyway. I use Bose noise cancelling ear buds which do double duty -- ear plugs + noise cancelation
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 06:56 PM
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The reason I don't want to take medication, if at all possible, is that I don't want to wake up groggy and feeling out of it, as we have some driving to do at the other end. If I need to take anything, it would have to be a very lightweight one.

Last edited by joto; Dec 10th, 2019 at 06:58 PM.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 03:26 AM
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It's not a good idea to take medication that makes you sleep during a flight. If there is an emergency, you might/will/could be out of it. It's a small risk but it can happen. The other risk is blood clots, from being in the same position for too long.
Would eating in the business class lounge before boarding help? Some can't sleep if they have just eaten or if they have had alcohol.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 07:33 AM
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I also have a hard time sleeping even in so-called "beds" in business/first class. My solution (which might not work for you, depending on where you're flying and from where) is to try to shoot for as many daytime flights as possible. I personally haven't found that sleeping on planes helps me especially with jetlag, but I have found that daytime flights, e.g. the US east coast to London, followed by a real bed at Heathrow, does. YMMV.

You might try something milder in the way of meds, perhaps melatonin or an antihistamine like Benadryl - these can help you get drowsy, but you won't feel "drugged."
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 09:10 AM
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I have never awoken feeling drugged and drowsy after taking Ambien. Look at it this way: you'll either be drowsy from not sleeping or possibly drowsy from any potential side effect of a drug. If you really feel like you'll need sleep for this flight, I'd at least try Ambien or similar before you leave home and see if it works for you and how you feel when you get up. My doctor says not to take it unless I have a guaranteed 7 hours of sleep time, so bear that in mind if you're planning to eat or chat or otherwise be busy at the start of end of your flight.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 09:24 AM
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For flights over 8 hours,I take two Tylenol PM tablets just after eating. Helps relax everything but no lasting after effects for me. YMMV
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 11:02 AM
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Instead of trying to sleep, you should concentrate on staying awake, in most cases you're going to fall asleep despite your best efforts.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 11:20 AM
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>>The reason I don't want to take medication, if at all possible, is that I don't want to wake up groggy and feeling out of it, as we have some driving to do at the other end.<<

I do not wake up feeling groggy/drugged -- even with a Temazepam.

BUT . . . PLEASE do not drive after an overnight flight!!!!!! Whether you are able to sleep or not, that is a very bad/dangerous idea.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 03:00 PM
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In most cases you're going to fall asleep despite your best efforts.

Not true in my case. It depends on the person. I have never in my life slept on a plane. Doesn't matter how long the flight or how tired I am.

Regardless I would never drive after a long flight. Nothing to do with medications. If you have a big time change/jet lag it's simply not safe.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by joto View Post
The reason I don't want to take medication, if at all possible, is that I don't want to wake up groggy and feeling out of it, as we have some driving to do at the other end. If I need to take anything, it would have to be a very lightweight one.
First of all have you tried a sleeping medication like a hypnotic before and if so what were the results? I take 5 mg. zolpidem (ambien) or half the prescribed dose which has never left me feeling out of sorts but of course how people respond to drugs does vary.

Second we used to give a low dose of Benadry or diphenhydramine as others have suggested (which is in Tylenols PM BTW) to some patients for sleep which often helped. It has a 4 hour half life which means basically its gone in around 8 hours. However best to ask your MD first and if indicated try one before you go to gauge its particular effect on you.

Then consider herbal tea such as chamomile which has relaxing properties.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 08:57 AM
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here's what i do to maximize rest/sleep on an overnight flight.

1. When there's a choice, I take a flight that departs after my normal dinner time rather than early. My frequent origin/destination (or european hub) pair has a 5pm departure and one around 8 or 9, so I take the latter when the connecting flights make good sense.
2. I eat dinner before I get on the plane, and decline meal service. No alcohol, no more liquids other than a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
3. From the minute I get on the plane I get in wind-down mode. No electronic devices, stimulation., get comfortable and ready to sleep BEFORE departure.
4. I either wear or change into something sleep-comfortable - cotton elastic waist pants and a soft cotton, long sleeve t-shirt work well.
5. eye shades - again, mostly to reduce stimulation.
6. Noise cancelling, over the ear headphones. hopefully the 2 people right behind me won't talk about nonsense for hours...
7. half a benedryl and/or some advil help me fall asleep but don't make me drowsy, and also help me breath esasier. A full benedryl will.

ymmv.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 09:23 AM
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I don't like taking meds on flights, but I do like melatonin, which I always take when I travel. It helps you fall asleep and adjust to a new time zone much faster. As I get older, I need all the help I can get. I also have noise-cancelling ear buds from Bose that I swear by. One charge keeps them going for a very long flight, and they don't have to be plugged into anything to work. Those and an eye mask are really all I need. I just flew nonstop to Israel and managed to sleep 6 hours in steerage.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 09:49 AM
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>> I also have noise-cancelling ear buds from Bose that I swear by. One charge keeps them going for a very long flight, and they don't have to be plugged into anything to work.<<

Aren't they wonderful!!. I can't get comfortable with the big over-the-ears headphones (and I've bought 3 different models over the years trying to find one that fits). Normally I don't like ear buds all that much, but my Bose are a dream. And so tiny the whole kit fits in a pocket. I regularly fly 11+ hours and the charge is more than adequate. I've had mine about 6 years so there may be newer versions . . . but I LOVE them.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 02:29 PM
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I'm of the mind to not try to force sleep on long flights, or to take anything like a Benadryl that might contribute to being dehydrated. I used to get a window seat so I could prop against the window with a pillow. Now I go for the aisle so I can get up and walk around frequently. I just watch movies and if I nod off a little, that's fine. I try to get a lot of sleep leading up to a trip so I'm not sleep deprived to start. And I do try to stay up as late as possible on arrival day, to get back on track. If I get lucky and there is an adjacent empty seat or even the entire row, I'll stretch out a little and can get a few hours in.

I have a bigger problem with west to east flights, the time change works against you. I'm just as likely to book a redeye, or even a longer layover, which allows me to walk around and have a meal. Knowing I'll be wiped out anyways on the first day. Then spend a night halfway, like NYC or Florida. Or work in a rest day at the beginning. If there is a choice, I'd rather fly west to east. Then I'm jetlagged when I get home, where it doesn't matter.

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 12th, 2019 at 02:31 PM.
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Old Dec 18th, 2019, 09:22 AM
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Like you, I find it difficult to sleep on flights and I dislike taking medication. I book seats away from the galley to avoid the noise and lights. I also have a playlist of relaxing, mostly instrumental music that I have used to condition myself for sleep. I'll play it, when my head hits the pillow, for several nights before a trip to condition a sleep response. It works pretty well and I can get 3 to 4 hours of shuteye on a 10 hour flight.
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Old Dec 18th, 2019, 04:39 PM
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For long haul, ten hours or more, we go Business lass with flat bed seats.I wear noise canceling head phones and take .5 mg of Ambien. I get some sleep. The best was six hours on a 16 hr flight.
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Old Dec 19th, 2019, 02:29 PM
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I think if I could afford the flat bed seats, then I would be able to sleep. My doctor said some people just can't sleep sitting up.
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Old Dec 21st, 2019, 08:48 AM
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I take an anti-anxiety medication so that won't work for you, but it does take the chill off and allows me to sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new place, including a drive.

I also use in-ear earphones (earbuds) attached to my Ipod (yes, I separate my catalogue of music from my iPhone!), and I prefer noise isolating earphones rather than noise canceling earphones, as it takes away all of the external noise, including people nattering away around me. I also don't have to play my music as loud, which of course is beneficial to my ears and my hearing. I have used the Etymotic brand for years. I also have their earplugs for concerts . . . much better for taking the sound down, but not muffling the music.
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Old Dec 26th, 2019, 11:34 AM
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I second the suggestion of melatonin. Try it a home. I find it does not make me groggy.
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