Conquering the Red Eye Flight
Updated: Jan 28
If you’re a frequent business traveler, you’ve faced the dreaded red eye flight. The overnight flight when you should be accruing precious sleep hours, spent surrounded by restless strangers on a plane, uncomfortable and certainly not sleeping. You try to prepare - wearing comfortable clothing, bringing the memory foam neck pillow, even having a glass of wine at the airport bar before the flight takes off. Nothing. Works.
While some have accepted travel-caused sleep deprivation as a part of their business travel experience, thankfully some women who actually like to sleep have suggested a few tips to help you get some rest on your next overnight flight.
Yes, Sleep IS that Important
Without even considering travel, about one in three Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the CDC. This can lead to long term mental and physical health problems. In addition, studies have suggested that women need to sleep more than men due to more mental and physical disturbances in our sleep. Typically, the National Sleep Foundation recommends adults ages 18-64 should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. This is of course a general recommendation and individuals must take into account personal factors such as stress and daily activity, basically “listen to your body”. When you do not sleep well, sleep long enough, or are operating outside of your body’s natural clock, you may develop sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is a condition in which you may have trouble focusing and reacting to your environment. This may lead you to have trouble remembering things, make decisions, or control your emotions and behavior. These are clearly not the traits you want to bring to the table on a business trip, that’s not the woman you are!. So you may be thinking that you can shrug off the 6 or so hours of shut eye you missed on the plane, but remember those hours add up and may affect your overall performance and presence before, during, and after your flight.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in our brain, releasing more melatonin when it’s dark and less in the light, to communicate the time of day to our bodies and let them know when to sleep. This is also available as a magical supplement for people to use as a sleep aid and can be found at almost any drug store. Melatonin may be the solution for those who need a sleep aid, but are wary of the side effects or dependency of other sleep medications.
As mentioned before, melatonin is widely available in stores like Wal-Mart and CVS, usually in the health and wellness section. A typical dose for an adult is five milligrams to be taken an hour before bed. Melatonin supplements are ingested by mouth, usually in a pill, but there are much tastier options available (safe for kids too!). Remember to always consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before beginning a new supplement or medication.
Stream & Download Sleep Help
If the glass of wine and yoga pants are not quite enough to catch some ZZZ’s on your flight, you may want to try a guided sleep meditation video or playlist. Plug in your earbuds and unwind with gentle sounds and music, often with a soothing voice coaxing you to your REM cycle. There are plenty available on YouTube for your listening pleasure. The only downfall with streaming meditation playlists on YouTube is that the advertisements between videos can be disruptive to your concentration on sleep. If there isn’t wifi on the plane or you don’t want ads disrupting your meditation, there are playlists available on Spotify you can download if you have premium (30 day free trial, duh!).
Podcasts are also widely available on streaming and downloading platforms to help you sleep. These range from bedtime stories for grownups to capturing the sounds and dialogue of an Antarctic boat trip, a documentary in a podcast almost.
Block it Out
Sometimes the good old fashioned way of physically blocking out distractions is the way to go. Ridding your body of all outside influences on your sleep like lights and noises may allow you to relax enough to actually sleep on an overnight flight. A member of our GoJaneGo Community suggested the Bucky eye masks for traveling, to avoid the mask pressing on your eyes and head while getting some much deserved rest. Noise cancelling headphones were also brought up as a “must” for surviving through red eye flights (check out this pair from Bose).
Join the discussion with other women traveling for business by joining our Facebook Group! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for advice and updates on how GoJaneGo is helping women travel better everywhere! ~Journey On, Janes