Having lived in Europe for several years and traveling back to the states quite a bit, I’ve mastered an 8- plus hour flight. Listed are my top ways of sleeping on a flight and overcoming jetlag once you land at your foreign destination.
1. Try to book the latest evening flight possible
If you can, book a flight after 6 pm and arriving in Europe between late morning and afternoon.
2. Choose your seat wisely
Try to avoid middle seats. If you are in economy, try to get an upgraded economy seat. You can, of course, pay for this or try your luck and ask the gate agent for a free upgrade. I use to enjoy window seats because you can prop your pillow on the window for better sleep. Now I prefer an aisle seat. This allows me the flexibility to stand and stretch my legs and go to the restroom without having to ask my seatmate to get up. Avoid seats close to the restroom for obvious reasons. Lastly, be careful with exit rows. Sometimes the armrest doesn’t raise. This is important if you are blessed by the seat God's with an empty row all to yourself. There is a great site SeatGuru that tells you the best seat for your exact flight.
3. No caffeine
On the day of your flight, try to avoid caffeine on the morning of your flight.
4. Adjust your watch
Once you get on your 8+ hour flight, adjust your watch to your destination time. This will allow you to mentally prepare your body for the new time zone.
5. Wear comfortable clothing
I wear my most stylish comfortable outfit. Before takeoff, I take my shoes off and put on comfortable compression socks. This helps with swelling while flying. I have a small drawstring bag the size of a sun glass case to put the dirty socks in after use. If you are in business class or first class, you’ll be provided pajamas and slippers depending on the airline.
6. Bring a neck pillow and travel blanket
No matter the class you are traveling, the airline will provide these items for free, however, I prefer my own because the material is more comfortable.
7. Have entertainment
As soon as you get settled and seated on your flight, start a movie, listen to music, or read a book. This will relax your mind and body. I also close the window shade at this time.
8. Night Night
An hour into your flight, dinner will be served. Once you've finished your meal, your movie should be wrapping up. This is your sign shut your entertainment off and force yourself to sleep. I don’t normally take any sleeping pills but I will have a glass of wine with my meal. If any sleeping aids are needed, I would suggest taking them with your meal.
9. Noise Cancellation Headphones
If you wake up, before the cabin lights come on for breakfast, then force yourself back to sleep. Having noise cancellation headphones are helpful. My husband had the Wireless Powerbeats and recently upgraded to Sony. I’ve yet to purchase any for myself. Hint, hint Mr .O. Noise cancellation headphones can make a huge difference when chatty people and crying babies are near.
10. Eye Mask
Close to arrival, the cabin lights will abruptly turn on for breakfast. This is why I choose to wear a sleeping eye mask. Once breakfast is served, you can choose to wake up for breakfast or remain sleep. Remember by this time you’ve been flying for 6+ hours and its early morning in Europe. Your body will appreciate any additional sleep before touchdown. I leave my tray table out and the flight attendant will leave my breakfast on the tray table without waking me up.
Once you arrive at your destination, you will be tired and tempted to fall asleep in your hotel room. FIGHT THIS URGE! Try your best to stay up and get the party started. Remember you’re taking time off of work, just traveled for 8+ hours and can sleep when you get home. If you must take a nap, I would suggest not sleeping for more than 2 hours. Have the hotel provide a wakeup call. Quickly after dinner, you’ll start feeling your body shutting down the early evening. Listen to your body, get to bed early so the next full day you’ll feel refreshed and ready to explore your new country.
What are your personal tips for international flights? I’d like to hear.