Adventures in Culture and Travel

26 November, 2011

How to fall asleep on a plane? SOLVED!

Travel pillow propaganda. 
How to fall asleep on a plane? I asked the same question back in 2009 when I began travelling on long international flights. Everyone seems to have their own answers. It makes sense, everyone sleeps differently. (Though some people are trying to sell you something too.) Some people literally can fall asleep standing up, not me. I like my cat, have a ritual where I circle the bed three times before snuggling into the perfect fetal position with exactly no less and no more than one appendage, usually a leg, lying outside of the blanket. I'm also a bit of a insomniac. So you'll understand that's it's complete murder for me to try and fall a sleep in a air-plane seat. I've also ordered probably every apparatus, pillow, and neck brace on the market trying to remedy this situation ever since my first flight to Heathrow which left me awake for the entire flight and the subsequent day. It was painful.

Seemed like a good idea before we left.
My first serious attempt to fall asleep on the plane came in our 2010 trip to Brussels. I purchased a couple SkyRest pillows also known as Cabin Comfort pillows. They were about $26 dollars and basically these huge inflatable cubes. The idea is that you put it on your lap after looking like an idiot blowing it up, (Why must all travel pillows make you look like an idiot?) and then you casually go to sleep like you did in third grade playing 7-UP with your head on the desk. It doesn't work though. Mine formed a hole mid-flight, and being high on sleeping pills made it a nightmare. It was bulky, and when people put their seats back, there's just not enough room to make it function.

She looks constipated, no?
The next year we tried the Komfort Kollar also known as the Kiro Pillow. It's basically like the normal inflatable kidney bean travel pillow except it uses memory foam, and goes completely around your neck like those braces used when you've been in a car wreck and are trying to sue the insurance company.My dog literally fell on the floor laughing when I tried it on before the flight. On the flight, it was useless. It may, and I say may, be perfect if you're a person who already can sleep sitting up, and wish to reduce neck strain, but for people like me, like us, who are wanting to sleep and can't do it like someone with sleep apnea, than I'd skip this dog collar.

So this brings us to the solution, and it's so obvious, you might kick yourself: bring the pillow from your bed. (A true Hollywood secret.) Last year for the heck of it, I rolled up my pillow, with a bungie cord, and strapped it to my carry-on, (a back pack) and it was perfect. I put down the tray table, placed the pillow on top, and had a little piece of home with me. Of course if you've got a bit of attachment to your home pillow, go to most any dollar store and pick one up for $3. If you get tired of carrying it around, dump it in the trash when you get there. It worked so well for me, I carried it all the way to Egypt and back. It barely cost me a thing, and I didn't have to blow it up like a wheezing cow during flight. Better yet, not only can you sleep, head down, on the tray table, (which is a fetal position actually) but it works great behind your head, or against the window if you get that seat. It's universally adaptable. (imagine that?) Sure you look like a college backpacker in the airport (which could be kind of cool) but it's worth it! Trust me. I may try to find a small duffel, or one of those deflatable zip-lock bags to shrink the pillow in the future, but my whole, bungee cord that I got out of the trunk and pillow from the closet worked perfect for me. (For the record, the metal was not an issue at all in the hook-ends of the cord at security.)

Blake Lively figured it out.
Eva Longoria does it too










I suppose I should also mention there's another trick I learned to aid in sleeping on the plane, from my very first attempt to fly internationally: Every professional flyer told me get some Unisom. They also told me be careful, because there's two kinds of Unisom, a cheap kind made with antihistamines, (dyphenhydramine) and a more expensive one. (doxylamine succinate) The expensive one is what you want. (Don't go cheap on me here!) It's the swallow, knock you out, and don't wake up till landing pill that's worth the difference in price. So here's the plan to sleep on the plane:

Liv's Recipe for sleeping on the plane: 
(For overnight International Flights)
  1. Eat light the day before your flight.
  2. Exercise heavily prior to the flight.
  3. Cut out all caffiene.
  4. Pack Unisom (doxylamine succinate) in your carryon where it can be easily accessed.
  5. Pack a traditional pillow and roll it up, securing it with a bungee cord or strap to your carry on.
  6. Once on-board, wait till dinner is about to be served and then swallow you pills.
  7. Eat dinner, get comfy, and prepare for sleep.
  8. Wake up sometime hopefully the next day for breakfast as you prepare for landing.
As a side note, many people do like ear-plugs or earphones, and I'm told the Snuggie is an absolute must for people who like blankets beyond the one that is provided, though I personally do not use any of these items.