Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sleep Easy on a Plane Tips to Make Flying Stress Free

In the next few weeks I will be flying to Europe and even though I am excited to go, perhaps too excited, I dread the 10 hour flight. If you are flying to Europe from the States your body’s sleep/wake cycle has to adjust to avoid jet lag. Researching ways to diminish jet lag and enjoy my trip starts by being able to sleep easy on a plane. There are many things that you should do pre-flight and during flight to help your body to adjust. Tips to make flying stress free begin by getting a good night’s sleep each night, eating right and trying to get some exercise before your trip begins. Although the effects of flying across several time zones varies from person to person and flight to flight there are ways to make your flying experience a relaxed stress free one.

Do you have a sleep routine? Meaning: do you go to bed and get up every day at the same time. You can prepare for different time zones by going to bed and getting up a couple hours earlier. Also you can eat meals at an earlier time. During the flight keep dehydrated by drinking bottled water and from time to time walk around. To sleep better on the plane try to control ways to make it quiet, dark and not too cold or hot. What are some ideas to feel worry free and relax for your next trip?

If you take your laptop computer make sure that you take it as a carry on as it will not survive in the cargo hold. Even though you will not be able to get on the internet you can watch a movie, write an article or do some off line work to help pass the time.

Whenever I fly I make sure I purchase a USA Today newspaper and a couple magazines. If you can’t sleep but want to relax while helping the time pass by quicker, reading or playing games like Sudoku or a crossword puzzle can ease boredom. You can also buy a Sudoku or crossword book at the airport. Don’t forget to bring a pen or pencil!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="160" caption="2 Pair Sof-wax Ear Plugs with Case By Apex Healthcare Products"][/caption]

To eliminate noise bring some noise-canceling headphones or wax-moldable over-the-counter ear plugs. You don’t have any control over a crying baby or a talkative neighbor, but you have ways to block them out. Bring an Mp3 player with your favorite songs or download your own list of sleep easy listening with self-hypnotic relaxation techniques, classical/sleep music or nature sounds.

Many airlines have AVOD (Audio Video on Demand), which is a TV screen in the back of the seat that is in front of you. Hopefully on a long flight you have a full menu of movies or music you can watch or listen to. However, some airlines have only a few choices. You may be able to check on their website to review their playlist or to be on the safe side, have some other entertainment choices. A new book to read or an e-Reader that can store multiple books are great, but remember you can’t have your e-Reader on unless you are at 10,000 feet. An iPod, iPhone, iPad, Nintendo DS, CD player or portable game can be alternative ways of amusement.

Often on a long flight a meal as well as snacks and drinks are offered. But if you are worried about dehydration it might not be a good idea to eat foods full of sodium. No one has to tell you that the snack packs offered by airlines are loaded with calories and unhealthy fats. Check before and look through the reviews and decide if you should buy food before the flight. Your airline probably won’t volunteer this information, but the food is even better if you order from the “secret” menu. And often, the economy class meals from this menu are better than the fare served up front. I’m talking about entrees for passengers with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans and diabetics. Be sure to contact your airline at least a day in advance to order the meal. But it’s well worth the call.

You can also bring some foods/snacks that are full of tryptophan the amino acid that causes you to become drowsy. The top snacks with the most tryptophan are: Soy chips or crisps: 378mg, Formulated Bar, Snickers Marathon Protein Performance Bar, Carmel Nut Rush 314mg (all other flavors 221mg), Oriental mix/rice based 192mg, Formulated bar, Power Bar chocolate 190mg, Smoked beef sticks 184mg, Hard, plain granola bars 177mg, Hard, peanut granola bars 172mg, Hard, whole-wheat pretzels 172mg and Trail Mix 166mg.

Some evidence suggests that nuts might help protect tooth enamel from plaque by neutralizing acids in the mouth and providing a dose of healthy minerals such as phosphorus. Pretzels may sound like a healthy snack choice, but they are more likely than nuts to get caught between the teeth, and they contain more of the fermentable carbohydrates that can foster the growth of bacteria in your mouth, especially if you won’t be able to brush your teeth for a while.

Beside a portable toothbrush, Floss and Wipe or Oral-B Brush-Ups in your carry-on to keep your mouth refreshed, bringing a spare pair of clothes is also a good idea to take on board just in case your checked luggage is lost or your flight is delayed overnight. Note: Although you may get the chance to brush your teeth using dry toothpaste (damn restrictions) on the plane or in the airport…don’t attempt to shave in an airplane! Not only is it disgusting, you will also cut yourself if there is turbulence.

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If you are going to sleep on the plane bring a travel pillow or head restraint, and try to avoid using the inflatable ones. I usually don’t tout prescription sleep aides because they have side effects, there are natural alternatives like; Bulldozer Relaxation Shot - 12 pack Tropical Berry, a low-calorie; berry-flavored 3oz drink. It's small enough to bring through security with you. (you may want to try it out and see if it actually works for you before your trip)

Find a good seat as some are better than others. Aisle or exit row seats provide extra leg room or a window seat for sleep. has airline-specific information on individual seat comfort and amenities. Avoid seats near the restrooms, as other passengers will be passing by often. Also the noise, light and ah smells that escape when the door is opened can be quite disturbing especially when you are trying to catch some zzz’s. In larger aircraft such as a Boeing 747 the back row of seats have more area to stretch if you don’t mind the noise coming from the engine. Remember the very last row of seats do not recline.

Do you like to watch the in-flight map showing the current position of the airplane? Watching this regularly or checking the time will only make the flight feel longer. It is better to move around when you have the urge to check as this will get your mind off of the time and give your body some much needed circulation especially when traveling on a long flight. Some airlines provide an exercise video for in-seat stretches to help with body circulation.

Protect yourself from the dry air onboard the plane that may cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water and bottle water is better than the airplane’s water. Purchase bottle water once you pass security or bring empty plastic bottles you can fill from the airport’s water fountain. The planes water, especially in the restroom, may contain bacteria. See: How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights. Use eye drops if your eyes feel dry and consider a saline nasal gel/spray to keep your nose moist and make breathing easier. Lip balm in a 3oz container can protect your lips and a small container of hand lotion or cocoa butter will help your skin if it dries easily.

Other Tips:

Go to the bathroom right before you leave just in case there is a delay at the gate.

Chew gum or use EarPlanes to relieve air pressure changes during the flight.

Talk to your doctor if you have a fear of flying

Move up to first or business class is easier (if not sold out) if you are dressed appropriately and have smaller carry-on luggage.

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WetOnes, the pre-moistened antibacterial wipes, can be used to wipe down heavily used areas and help alleviate picking up any unwanted germs.

Nada Chair S'port BackerBraces) helps those with back problems and provides better lumbar spine posture which can also lower blood pressure. It keeps you sitting upright and prevents slouching which puts a strain on your back. It folds up to the size of a paperback book.

Keep a photocopy of your passport just in case your original is lost or stolen.

If traveling overseas and do not have international cell phone service turn off your phone because you may still get your emails but at the international rates, which can add up in a hurry.

To control light from the windows or your partners overhead light bring an eye mask. Some eye masks/pillows contain lavender which helps you to fall asleep.

Older adults or those that have circulation issues may consider wearing pressure socks during a long flight.

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Airlines have carry-on size restrictions and if your bag is over the limit you may be asked to check it, so it is important to stay within their size guidelines. It is better to minimize your carry-on luggage so it will be easier to find a place in the overhead bins or under the seat. The current size which includes length, width and height summed up in inches should not surpass 45 inches. However, some airlines allow carry-on luggage to size up to 51 inches. Restrictions with carry-on weight depend on the airline. American Airlines, Continental, Delta and Northwest have a weight restriction of 40lbs, while US Airways allows 50lbs. To keep current for the items allowed in carry-on luggage you should go to

REMEMBER if you are on prescription medication it is allowed in your carry-on bag with some restrictions. It must be in its original pharmacy container labeled with the name of the passenger on their ticket. Take each medication in its own bottle and place them in a plastic bag for ease during security screening.

The rules and ordinances of carry-on luggage are stricter in case of flights to international destinations. The airline carry- on luggage restrictions for the first class travelers varies from those traveling in coach and business class. These ordinances may seem very complicated, but is certainly better to be safe when it comes to air travel. The best way is to confirm with your airline in advance as to what can be taken and what can't.

The content provided in Sleep Easy on a Plane Tips to Make Flying Stress Free is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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