Sleeping on airplanes (in cattle class)

Sep 11th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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For anyone not already aware, Tylenol PM is a combination of acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol®) and diphenhydramine (Brand name Benadryl®)
While in most people the antihistamine diphenhydramine produces drowsiness or outright sleep, a small number of people have a paradoxical reaction to diphenhydramine/Benadryl® and actually become agitated instead of drowsy. As with any medication, if you have never taken it previously, try it out at home before getting on the plane.

Re: reclining - I also find that the recline in cattle class seating (where I am, unfortunately, usually seated) does little to promote sleep. I am too tall to put my feet on my rollaboard but do find the neck pillow helpful. I use an inflatable one that lets me adjust the firmness and folds away to almost nothing for storage.
Seamus is offline  
Sep 11th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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My doctor said some people simply cannot sleep sitting up. I am one of them. I've yet to ever sleep on an airplane.

The best position for me is the tray table down, a pillow on it. then leaning forward. For medication I use Xanax or Valium (which relax you and help the time pass but do not knock you out cold).
suze is offline  
Sep 11th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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I have a horrible reaction to any OTC sleep aids. The opposite of what it's supposed to be. They make me wired, wide awake, and intensely anxious.
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Sep 11th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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>>I am too tall to put my feet on my rollaboard<<

I'm just the opposite -- too short and my feet don't ht the floor. I can barely rest my feet on my bag under the seat in front and it is just as bad. Dangling legs is the worst and makes it really hard to get comfortable . . . But I do find noise canceling headphones, one (ONLY one) glass of red wine w/ dinner, and half a dose of one of the OTC sleep aids at least lets me doze maybe and hour or two on a 10 hour flight.
janisj is online now  
Sep 11th, 2013, 08:46 PM
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suze, sounds like you are one of the folks who have a paradoxical reaction to diphenhydramine / Benadryl. Worst I ever saw was a young kid whose Mom gave it to him on a plane thinking it would help him sleep - she spent hours literally chasing him in the aisles.
Seamus is offline  
Sep 12th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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Seamus, yup that would describe it! I could never take stuff like Contact cold medication either. While I promise I never ran down the aisles of a plane flight (lol) I sure would be figuratively bouncing off the walls.

It's funny because I do just fine with real prescription meds (anything in the friendly -zapam family works beautifully for me).
suze is offline  
Sep 12th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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suze, the benodiazepines (the "-pam" drugs like diazepam / Valum, lorazepam / Ativan) are a different class of drug than the antihistamine diphenhydramine/Benadryl so no surprise you respond differently. Be careful with any OTC products, read the ingredients to be sure they do not contain diphenhydramine.
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Sep 12th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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I know ii know Seamus, that was my point exactly and I don't use OTC stuff except Advil.
suze is offline  
Sep 13th, 2013, 02:17 AM
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Janisj - your problem is solved easily with a squishy neck pillow. Wrap it up in the supplied blanket, or take a small pillowslip (so you can wash it), and put it under your feet.
I'm tall, but I use the above method and can stretch out comfortably quite a bit under the seat in front. The squishiness is great for occasional foot exercises too.
Carrabella is offline  
Sep 13th, 2013, 05:05 AM
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For the OP (and others who can't tolerate Ambien) this won't help, but other readers might want to be aware of a prescription drug called Intermezzo. It's basically a half of an Ambien--and is intended to provide four hours of sleep.

I book a window seat, and use a partially inflated blow-up pillow; ear plugs beneath my noise-canceling headphones; Intermezzo; and an eye mask. I don't sleep soundly, but can usually doze off and on. I use jackets and sweatshirts as pillows, propping up my back, as well as my neck. I think part of the key is booking flights at times when my body expects to sleep.
Songdoc is offline  
Sep 13th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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Carrabella - if only that would work. My legs are short and a neck pillow or tow airline provided pillow is not tall enough. My toes would just barely touch it. I used to carry a small folding footrest designed for air travel. But it was more trouble than it was worth and was heavy in my carryon.

In the old days when planes still had foot rests it was heaven since they were adjustable.
janisj is online now  
Sep 15th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Comfortable clothes help, paying for economy plus gives you a few extra inches if you are tall, backpack on floor to prop up feet, compression hose, ambien, and stay clear of movie watching. The styroball type neck things in your own pillow case helps too.I like aisle so you can stretch out feet once in a while. I'm tall. Chap stick so lips don't dry out.
southeastern is offline  
Sep 15th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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I just got on to ask this question!

We're considering an overnight flight from LAS to HNL in March, but we'd like to be able to sleep on the plane if possible, so this is helpful information. Thanks, everyone.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 01:55 AM
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janisj= I'm short too, and my feet barely reach the floor, which puts a lot of pressure on the back of my thighs and makes my legs swell impressively on an airplane.

There is a new inflatable foot rest out that helps a lot. I got mine on Amazon. It really improved my comfort on a flight to Hawaii.
mowmow is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 07:44 AM
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Ooh - thanks mowmow. I'll check it out. I have another 10+ hour overnight flight next month.
janisj is online now  
Sep 17th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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lots of great ideas here (non-medicated ones).

I think part of it is mental preparation... do things that tell your body it is time to go to sleep. We eat before we board, so the food is somewhat digested. Take out the contacts before I board - all things I do just before bed. Of course, 9pm or later flights also work better than 7pm flights! Finally, I wear a hooded sweatshirt with a big front pocket. The big front pocket works well to hold glasses and a tissue, the hood goes up when I'm ready to sleep and it becomes my mental "barrier" against the other stuff out there.

Having said all that... one of the surfkids can't sleep at all on planes and she is miserable. The other two curl up in tiny little balls and are asleep before we take off, so I think there is a genetic component.
surfmom is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 11:49 PM
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I just accept that I won't be sleeping and try to make myself as comfortable as possible, while reminding myself of how the money I didn't spend for Business Class is going to finance my entire trip. Besides, sleep is overrated
Melnq8 is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 08:22 PM
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My ingredients for a decent 6 hour sleep on an over-nighter:

1) Comfort clothes, exercise pants, nylon tee shirt, light hoodie, light Sanuk slippers. As surfmom said make sure the hoodie has a big front pocket to secure your arms. Hate dangling arms!

2) Neck brace. This is very important! Use the cheap soft cervical collar with velcro strap sold at most drug stores for about $15. It's critically important to immobilize your neck WITHOUT a huge bump pushing on the back of your neck or you won't sleep. Looks dumb but I don't care. The round beanie filled ones everyone uses throw my neck so far forward it's headache time in about 5 minutes. Hate those things!

3) GOOD noise cancelling earphones (Bose 15's) with earplugs as well. This will block 90% of noise especially when the lights go out and talking ceases (hopefully!). NC earphones do well at blocking airplane engine noise but don't block conversations well thats why the earplugs are needed too. I even connect my iPhone to play classical music (London Philharmonic)at low volume but most people are not used to that and could never do that. For me, it works great.

4) Good eye mask. Not to tight but absolute darkness while still being able to blink.

5) Zolpidem (Ambien) puts me right to sleep without the sometimes wierd zombie-esque side-effects my friends have had. I've tried Melatonin but its not strong enough. I may try Benadryl next time.

There you have it. I always get 6 hours sleep on over-nighters across the pond with this formula!
Toucan is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:06 AM
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Thanks for the "neck brace" tip Toucan. I'm going to look for one today for a cattle-car flight to Basel, Switzerland in November. Can't complain too much, though. Grand Circle gave me free air for river boat trip from Basel ending in Brussels. Suprisingly, the flights are fairly direct on United and Lufthansa.
JaneB is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 06:35 PM
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What a air..You may not even care if you don't, can't sleep. Excitement may interfere with the best laid plans!!!
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