Natural Cures

8 Things That Will Help You Sleep on an Airplane


Whether you’re jetting from coast to coast or around the world, jet lag is a downright drag. A little background on the traveler’s worst enemy: “Jet lag occurs when we experience a desynchronization between our internal body clock and the external time clock of our destination,” explained Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., an Environmental Fellow at the National Sleep Foundation. “Symptoms of this desynchronization include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, indigestion, and a negative mood.”

None of those symptoms make for a very fun vacation. One of the best ways to avoid that “desynchronization” is to sleep on the plane on your way to the destination. There’s just one problem: “Airplanes are a terrible place to sleep,” said Dr. Carl Bazil, a sleep specialist and professor of neurology at Columbia University.

So how do you actually get a good night’s sleep on a plane? “Travel first class,” said Dr. Bazil, with a laugh. If that’s not an option, the sleep experts had a few suggestions for how to get something resembling a good night’s sleep on an economy budget.

Book Your Plane Ticket Carefully

“Select a flight that allows early evening arrival,” suggests Dautovich, which could mean skipping sleep entirely and making it easier to stay up until 10 p.m. local time, which is the suggested bedtime when visiting a destination that adheres to a different time zone.

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