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Although the dropping costs of airfare and the rise of budget airlines have made flying much more accessible, it’s also created a few major drawbacks that can make your flight an unpleasant one. Sadly, shrinking airplane seats and cramped leg room have become the norm as airline companies attempt to stuff as many passengers as they can into a small space.
Here are 10 hacks for getting more comfortable on a plane and ensuring your trip will be as enjoyable and yes, sleep-conducive as possible.
Buy a travel blanket.
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Fielding constant temperature changes can be one of the biggest issues on a flight, but it can be difficult to dress in layers without taking up too much space in your carry-on bag.
Instead of bringing a bulky scarf or jacket, invest in a travel blanket which can also double as a support for your lower back or for your neck. The best part is that some travel blankets come in small, compact case which won’t take up much room in your bag.
Bring an eye mask.
Whether or not you’re taking a red-eye flight, an eye mask is an essential accessory that can help you sleep. This is because darkness is incredibly important for falling asleep. Darkness stimulates the production of the hormone melatonin, which helps us relax and fall asleep.
Pack products to prevent chapping and dryness.
The air inside of an airplane can be very dehydrating, which means you could be facing dry eyes and parched skin while you’re in the air.
Come prepared with eye drops and an all-purpose balm that’s small enough for you to bring on board but that will work overtime on any dryness you have.
If you’re really looking to treat yourself, consider getting a hydrating sheet mask for your next long trip.
Invest in a good travel pillow.
- Shutterstock / Matej Kastelic
Instead of using your regular u-shaped travel pillow and hoping to catch some zzz’s, guarantee you’ll feel fresh and rested when you land with the cult-favorite Trtl pillow.
The Trtl pillow looks like a scarf but with built-in ribs that let you lean to your preferred sleep position. Plus, the pillow comes in a small package that lets you easily carry it on board.
Check online beforehand to locate your seat.
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If you have the option to choose your seat before you take off, flight attendants and experts recommend heading towards the middle of the aircraft and picking a window seat on the left side if you’re trying to get some rest.
Tune into your airplane’s music channels for a “sleep” option.
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While noise-canceling headphones are probably part of your travel arsenal if you fly frequently, you might not know that many airplanes are equipped with a “sleep” music channel playing soothing music or quiet sounds to help you relax and unwind.
If you aren’t willing to invest in noise-canceling headphones but want to block out a screaming baby or your neighbors’ conversation, simple earplugs should do the trick.
Don’t cross your legs.
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Sitting for hours during your flight can put you at risk for getting a blood clot in your legs, also known as deep vein thrombosis (or DVT). Per the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 60,000-100,000 Americans die from DVT each year, so it’s a flight risk you shouldn’t take lightly.
In addition to staying hydrated and taking regular breaks every couple hours to stretch and walk around, resist the urge to cross your legs as it further restricts blood flow.
Don’t drink too much alcohol
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Speaking of DVT, dehydration coupled with hours of inactivity and too much alcohol may make your blood much more likely to clot, according to WebMD.
Although knocking back a couple of glasses of champagne during a long-haul flight is tempting, it won’t help you sleep better, plus the resulting hangover and motion sickness mid-turbulence isn’t the best travel companions.
And while a few drinks might help you fall asleep, alcohol affects both the quality and quantity of your sleep, messing with your circadian rhythm and blocking REM sleep.
Don’t eat too much right before your flight
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You might be tempted to load up on food at the airport to avoid the dreaded airplane fare, but eating too much and then sitting in one place for hours isn’t a good combination for your stomach, let alone for getting any sleep.
To prevent an uncomfortable flight, eat small meals a couple hours before your flight and try to avoid high-sodium foods that can make your body even more dehydrated.
Don’t watch any movies or shows right away.
- REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
It may seem counterintuitive, considering that many long-haul flights are equipped with mini entertainment screens, but you’re better off napping first then killing the time with a movie or two if you want to rest at all during your flight.
Immediately tuning in to your favorite show can make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep, due to the melatonin-restricting blue light emitted by your cell phones, tablets, and yes, plane TVs.
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