November 5, 2007

Waiting for the red-eye flight back to NYC.

I need to get what will count as my full night's sleep on a 6-hour flight that's starting soon. Any tips on how to sleep on a plane?


Kev said...

1) Get the window seat. It's easier to "curl up" when the window is off to your side, as opposed to the aisle or other people.

2) Lots of pillows, and the blanket if you're so inclined.

3) The iPod you were talking about last week.

(I missed that thread when it was current, but for me, one of the best things about iPods is its convenience in travel situations. It sure beats having to haul around a Discman, a wallet of CD's, and a zillion AA batteries--not to mention having to pay airport prices for more batteries if yours run out.)

Freeman Hunt said...

Take the pillow. Take the blanket. Remove your shoes. Move to an empty window seat if there is one so that you have something to lean on. If you can't move and you're so bold, you can sleep with your head on the meal tray. Wrap up and fall asleep to the hum of the engines.

Meade said...

The Bose QuietComfort™ Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headset

Larry said...


Uncle Jimbo said...

Tuck your chin,
Balance your head with pillows/blankets,
quit sniveling and dream.


Uncle J

So many frequent flyer and uncounted military miles as to make me consider virtual reality.

Ann Althouse said...

I brought my full-size down pillow. I have my iPod (with comforting audiobooks). I've got the window seat.

As for Ambien -- don't have it. Probably wouldn't take it if I did. I only tried sleeping pills a couple times (when I had insomnia as a law student on the night before exams).

I want to get the noise cancellation headphones. Need to do that.

Robert Holmgren said...

In order to induce certain drowsiness leading to a deep sleep read this.

Duscany said...

There is no good way to sleep on a plane. If you have three days and nothing better to do, take a train. Also you could always just stay in San Francisco. There are worse places to live. Teach your New York law classes with podcasts.

Kirk said...


rhhardin said...

Sleeping all night is overrated. The trick is naps during the day.

The highly overpriced Bose headset is handy around the house, for the odd day when teens are running the new car stereo bass and you want the power to escape it, if not actually following through very often by figuring out where you left them and putting them on.

AllenS said...

Close your eyes, and count sheep jumping over a fence.

Michael T said...

Show up sleep-deprived at the airport.

Superdad said...


AllenS said...

I want to apologize for my simple comment above. I would have had better stuff, if my writers weren't on strike.

Simon said...

I recommend taking as much of this as you can take before sleep kicks in. It's a dead cert.

MadisonMan said...

Don't get a seat next to someone drunk or fat.

Peter Palladas said...

A dear and terribly holy monastic mate of mine used to swear by the Acts of the Apostles as a cure for insomnia.

"A couple of chapters dear boy and you can't help but nod off."

George said...

When's bedtime?

When the Ambien Express arrives at Sleepytime Station.

--Martha Plimpton in NY Mag.

What's your favorite medication?

--Brian Williams in NY Mag

Ann Althouse said...

Superdad said "drink."

I never drink on planes, actually. Drinking might knock you out but I don't think it's going to result in a good night's sleep.

P. Rich said...

Too late for this trip, but:

Don't drink while flying. It contributes to dehydration.

I've known many frequent trans-Atlantic travelers. Some swear by -

Sleeping pills

They remove shoes, recline with blanket and pillow, don sleep aids and pop pills immediately after takeoff. It seems to work. I don't know what specific pills were used, but they need to act quickly and without leaving a hangover. Upgrading to Business or First class is a major plus. Much easier to get comfortable there.

Fen said...


And anything written by Glen Greenwald.

Grunt said...

I used to fly back and forth to LA from NYC on a fairly regular basis. I know it's too late for this trip BUT:

Are you a stomach sleeper or a back sleeper (or a side sleeper)? My husband is a back sleeper so all he needs to do is lean back as far as possible and crash. I am a stomach sleeper and find it difficult to sleep without my face being planted somewhere.

Get an inflatable pillow or one of those pillows they sell in airport gift shops that go around your neck. Position it sideways (so that the thickets part of the pillow is either on the left or right shoulder.

Place another pillow against the wall, if you have one, if not, many seats now have "wings" on the headrest. Position those so you can lean against them.

Bring a large scarf (like a pashmina) and wrap it around your mouth and neck (so that you are breathing in something that smells like you as opposed to something that smells like airplane).

Cover the rest up with a blanet. Fold your arms over yourself, under the blanet.

I am personally a fan of the portable DVD player. I stick some show I've seen 12 times before and fall asleep to that.

Don't get enough sleep the day before you leave.

Sorry, I just spent way to much time on this.

Stephen said...

Ann, after years of experimentation, I'm able to get 3 hrs sleep under the following regimen: 1) No coffee the day of the flight; 2) Empty the bladder before boarding, then drink lots of water after takeoff; 3) One tablet melatonin, a "natural" sleep aid; 4) Use one of those horseshoe-shaped pillows that prop up the head--also useful on long car trips. [Alternatively, fly first class or a private jet in a seat that fully reclines:)]

Jeremy said...

I don't think alcohol will give you good rest either, but I once had a pharmacist recommend Captain Morgan and Bendryl. I was underage at the time and couldn't tell if he was kidding.

lurker2209 said...

I can never sleep on planes no matter what I do, but my mom swears by tylenolPM.

Blake said...

Stay up the 72 hours prior to the flight.

Yeah, too late for this adventure.

But it always works for me.