Sleeping pills for long haul flights

Mar 7th, 2014, 09:37 AM
  #1  
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Sleeping pills for long haul flights

I would like some fresh opinions on the various knock out drops that you take for a long flight. In the past we have borrowed some ambien from a friend, but I don't know if I want to do that anymore so I would like some opinions on that stuff vs. OTC sleeping stuff.

The few times I have taken something like unisom, I hate the groggy feeling when you wake up. Plus, we don't sleep easily sitting up in a plane seat so I need a real knock-out punch. Once I tried benadryl and got the twitchies instead of the sleepies, it was horrible!!

We will be doing Australia and S. Africa this year from California, so 14-15 hours all in one shot, yuck.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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I'm not sure taking a sleeping pill is all that good an idea. I take a small dose diazepam (Valium). It relaxes rather that knocking one out. If I must, I can be wide awake and alert immediately but it does help me slip into a nice nap without feeling the slightest bit groggy when I wake up. I usually get about 4 good hours sleep. And I don't worry about having to be alert in an emergency.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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I should mention, the 4 hours is on a trans-Atlantic flight, a longer nap on a trans-Pacific. It works very well, been doing it for decades.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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You don't want knock out drops. I don't take sleeping pills.

Something in an anti-anxiety works best in my experience. Like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, etc.

These will relax you so maybe you can drop off to sleep easier, and makes time seem to pass more quickly. But you can wake up if need be for any kind of inflight emergency or situation.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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Benadryl is one of the ingredients in Unisom (the other is doxyalamine). Both are antihistamines. So curious how you got the "twitchies" from Benadryl and not Unisom.

Most (?all) OTC sleep aids are antihistamines, with Benadryl being present in the vast majority - Tylenol PM, Advil PM are the stated pain reliever plus Benadryl.

Another OTC medication that causes drowsiness in many people is anti-motion sickness medication. The active ingredient is meclizine and for some people works better, although I do not believe it is legal to market it as a sleep aid.

I don't think there exists anything safe, OTC or by prescription, that is going to knock you out for 14-15 hours and not have you feel terrible after.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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Many world travelers swear by using Ambien on overseas flights after the meal is completed. The med really zonks you the first hour or so, and it wears off quickly. It doesn't leave you groggy after the med wears off.

The alternatives are mentioned above--Tylenol PM or Benadryl.

I usually try to go to bed earlier the week before leaving--trying to get my internal clock synchronized with European time.
Sometimes I'll sleep, and sometimes I'll just stay awake.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 11:30 AM
  #7  
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I used to take sleeping pills on long flights and I always felt a lot more jet lagged the next day. These days I do not take sleeping pills and although I don't sleep much on the flight, I still feel a lot better.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Be careful with benedryl if you have never used it before. On some people (me for one) it has the opposite effect and makes me "wired". I'd NEVER fall asleep on that.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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If you don't travel well across time zones, it is more sustainable to start slow on your first day in the foreign time zone. I go across 6-9 hrs time zones several times per year, and sometimes it works easier or without jet lag, sometimes there is a jet lag - even when you fly in business class and can lie down to sleep. On a night flight you can try a glass of red wine or two. Much more tastier and with less side effects than drugs. Caveat: Neither stoned by drugs nor alcohol you should pick up a rental car upon arrival!
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Mar 7th, 2014, 11:54 AM
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You are not "stoned by drugs" at the end of a 9-10 hours flight to Europe from taking one Xanax at take-off.

Wine is not helpful for immediate sleep because alcohol is initially a stimulant, only later a depressant.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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I find wine quite helpful. Others may prefer drugs. To each his/her own.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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I find wine "helpful" too, just not for sleep.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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The more serious answer would have been that Alprazolam has a a half-life (according to Wikipedia's eternal wisdom) of 11 hours. Which is more or less the time you need to get across the Atlantic.
So if you popped one Xanax upon departure, you'd still have half of drug at work when you picked up the car in Dublin or Paris. Obviously not all semi-drugged people get into accidents once they picked up the rental car. Just technically, you'll be DUI. Which I don't find too smart after a red eye flight.
If you had two small glass of wine or .5 alcohol, you'd be sober again upon arrival.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 12:19 PM
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I don't drive in Europe, but thanks for your concern.

This post specifically asked about "sleeping pills for long haul flights".
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Mar 7th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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If Ambien worked for you before, why not get your own scrip from a Doctor?

I don't like Benadryl on airplanes, I get dehydrated enough without that, although if I am desperate I might take one or two since I carry it anyway for allergies. Same reason I won't have more than one drink with a meal.

Going from east to west (CA to NZ) I've found is much easier than going to Europe, usually you arrive in the morning and I can stay awake til dinner time and then catch up pretty quickly.

Just try to be caught up on your sleep before you leave, bring a comfy pillow and slippers in the carry on, put on the headphones, and get a window seat. Catnaps are good too.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 02:00 PM
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Some people cannot sleep on planes. Period. That makes the jet lag all that much more significant since you've been up 24-48 hours straight.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 02:28 PM
  #17  
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Suze, yes, that's exactly my problem. To Joburg from LA, it's a morning 5 hour flight to Atlanta, a short layover, then a 15 hour evening flight to Joburg, that's a lot of being awake time. The nice thing is we get to Joburg at 5pm so we go straight to an aiport hotel and shower and sleep.

For the Australia trip, it's 14 hours overnight to Sydney, a 4 hour layover then a 5 hour flight to Darwin. So, I am looking for several hours of unconciousness during the long flights! Perhaps I will get a scrip for Ambien, that worked pretty well.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 02:49 PM
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If Ambien worked well for you in the past, I would get your own prescription. You only need to ask for a couple pills (I would use it the first night after I arrived to help me get adjusted to local time).

My doctor won't prescribe Ambien, and I am more comfortable using Xanax, as I have mentioned above.

People who can sleep on planes, or who aren't sensitive to time change and jet lag, don't understand how horrible it can be.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 02:59 PM
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I take the old Ambien which is short acting (4 hours). You have to ask the doc to write that kind specifically as they will normally prescribe the newer long-acting time release version (Ambien CR). It lasts 8 hours.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 05:01 PM
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You can also try melatonin to help you catch up when you arrive.
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