If there’s one thing the modern world likes to shortchange people on, it’s sleep. Whether it’s early hours, long days, or irregular schedules, we often find ourselves looking for places to catch a few more of our rightful forty winks. And that’s before we have to go somewhere!
Be it planes, trains, or carpooling, there’s plenty of travel situations where it’s possible to spend your passenger time getting some longed-for sleep, but all too often we wind up with some version of jet-lag instead. Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to replace that red-eye feeling with a restful snooze, so long as you plan ahead and know what you’re doing. For example:
1) When possible, try to sit next to a window.
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer; it’s much more pleasant having something to rest against than being crowded in by other people (or in larger conveyances, getting your legs kicked out of that inviting open aisle all the time). If you mean to lay your head against said window, you’re going to want some padding for the inevitable vibration of travel, which leads to the next point:
2) Use some form of head support.
And preferably, this isn’t the person next to you. They won’t be happy, dealing with them means you won’t be happy, it’s much safer- and savvier- to be self-supporting. This ranges from standard doughnut-shaped neck pillows (Pro tip: turn them backwards so your head doesn’t fall out the front gap) to recent sleep designs like the NapAnywhere pillow, which is meant to keep good spinal alignment while you’re resting. Find what works for you and stick with it.
3) On long trips, skip shoes and go with pajama-pants.
This goes for planes, trains, and road-trips with friends; you’re not dressing to impress, you’re dressing to be comfortable. Being stuck in the same or nearly-same position for hours on end is going to be a bother under the best of circumstances, and changing your shoes for a good pair of either indoor slippers or clean socks is surprisingly effective; freeing up your feet can improve circulation and make a long ride marginally more bearable. Improved circulation is also why you want pajama-style pants instead of sweats.
4) Don’t use alcohol as a sleep drug!
Seriously, not a good choice. It might help you pass out, but that sleep won’t be nearly as restful- and who wants to deal with a drunken jerk on their flight? If you need a chemical addition to get some rest, some people suggest Ativan, some good old NyQuil- but melatonin is a sleep chemical your brain creates already, and tends to work much better for short-term rests.
There’s also the old standbys like ‘noise-canceling headphones’ or ‘comfy earbuds playing ocean waves’ to block out sound, ‘face-mask’ or at least ‘baseball cap’ to blot out the light, and ‘try to recline around 135 degrees’ to ease the back, but that’s all a bit more situational; you should have the basic tools now. Good luck getting that sleep!