Airplane travel can be a necessary evil for a large part of the population. Whether you're heading to a work convention, vacation destination or just trying to get back home for a holiday, there will eventually come a time when you'll need to sleep on the plane. And if you're someone who has trouble sleeping anywhere but in your own bed, this can be an anxiety-inducing situation. Luckily, we've compiled a checklist of helpful tips to help you relax enough to chase down a few hours of sleep -- even at 40,000 feet.
Pack Your Headphones and Music Player
Noise-cancelling headphones are a must if you're booking an overnight flight. Make sure to pack them, and make sure to download a some white noise to listen to, such as rain on the roof or ocean waves breaking against the shore, when you're ready to tune out.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, white noise helps lull your mind into a restful repose because it's an ambient noise that works to block out other sounds like doors slamming or the guy next to you drumming his fingers on the armrest. But if you're not a fan of static, use whatever recordings typically work to lure you into slumber at home.
Bring an Airline Sleep Mask
Who cares how you look so long as you get a nice, restful sleep? If you're worried people will think you're weird for wearing a sleep mask in public -- there's no need. They'll be too busy slipping on their own to give you much notice. A sleep mask that covers the eyes is ideal for air travel because it effectively blocks out all light -- including the light emanating from your seat mate's laptop.
Pack a Blanket and a Plane Pillow
Most seasoned travelers can tell you; it's gets cold on a plane. Make sure you have a nice, soft throw to snuggle into when you're ready to power down for the day. Being uncomfortably cold is a huge obstacle to getting a few solid hours of shut-eye. A plane pillow is important too. Seasoned travelers recommend spinning the pillow to the front before turning in so it cradles your head when it falls forward.
Don't gorge yourself before trying to kick back and relax on the plane. If you're going to eat, eat light and choose foods that are conducive to relaxation such as kiwi, cottage cheese, rice, cherry juice or walnuts. Foods such as these may contain melatonin, magnesium or tryptophan -- all things that increase the quality of sleep. If you follow this rule, you'll have no need for sleeping pills for flights.
Have a Plan
Brush up on your meditation or some simple yoga moves before stepping onto your flight. Stretching, breathing and focusing on being mindful are all practices that will help you to relax during air travel.
This annoying little drug is hiding in more foods and drinks than you might realize. Coffee, tea, cappuccino, latte, soda, chocolate, protein bars and even your water can be supplemented with caffeine. Avoid it if you want to relax enough to fall asleep during your flight.
Follow these easy tips when it's time to drift off during your flight, and you should awake refreshed, rested and eager to step off the plane and into your next adventure.