If you travel for business, vacation overseas or just try to wring out every last minute of your long weekend in Vegas, you’ve probably flown the dreaded red-eye. Though overnight flights offer the luxury of beginning the next day at your destination (and knocking a night off your hotel bill), they are called red-eyes for a reason.
Even with no screaming babies, flatulent neighbors or other turbulence en route, you can still end up a wreck. Here are a few tips to make your next flight a little less miserable.
Take the last flight of the night
If you have the choice, book your departure as close as possible to the time you’d normally hit the sack. Taking off between, say, 10:30 and midnight, you’re more likely to fall asleep than if your flight is at 9 p.m., when you might otherwise be out partying.
Book a window seat
While this might sound counterintuitive (aisle seats make it easy to unbuckle and stretch, or hop on line to pee, or deplane), window seats are a red-eye traveler’s BFF. Snagging a spot next to the window gives you the option of resting your head against the cabin wall (versus sitting stiffly upright with a neck pillow), and allows you to control your light exposure.
If you’re able to get comfy enough to conk out, you won’t be awakened by seatmates climbing over you.
Dress for comfort, not the camera
Yeah, we know, you’re not keen to post an airport selfie in your baggy sweats. But if you do, hopefully your followers will understand just this once why you’re not runway-ready.
We’re not suggesting you board the plane in your PJs; we’re saying that settling in for the long haul you’re better off dressing for comfort. Clothes that are loose and breathable won’t guarantee you’ll get a good night’s sleep, but they won’t be the reason you don’t. Stash the stuff that pinches, squeezes, tugs or itches in your suitcase for when you land.
Wisely being the operative word. Knocking back a few G&Ts is enticing — and they may help you doze off faster — the booze won’t help you sleep well. Also, drinks consumed at 30,000 feet can pack twice the punch as those at you local pub, increasing your odds of waking up with a hangover.
Instead of hitting the sauce, some sleep experts recommend melatonin before an overnight flight to help regulate rest and reduce jet lag. But you should also be aware that melatonin is not a simple cure-all without risks. Talk with your doctor beforehand.
Whatever your thoughts on stronger medications for flights, one thing is critical: Know how a particular pill affects you before popping it onboard a flight. Don’t let the red-eye be your first trial run.
Yes, this contradicts every piece of advice you’ll ever read about drinking and flying, but we must consider the red-eye a different beast. If you manage to coax yourself to sleep for those precious few hours, do you really want the call of nature to wake you up an hour later?
That being said, it is important to guzzle some extra water toward the end of the flight to make up for the dehydration that happens naturally onboard.