“This way, we don’t have to sleep with our head in the mud.” – Bubba in the movie Forrest Gump, while leaning on Forrest’s back in the dense and dark jungles of Vietnam during the war.
I just flew back from London after attending my beautiful niece’s wedding. My wife slept on the plane, while I found it a bit difficult to sleep with my legs hanging down. I also need my back horizontal for me to be able to sleep sound. If you are like me who cannot sleep in those tight coach class seats, here are a few tips you will find immensely helpful.
Our inability to sleep on the plane, in most cases, is a case of a learned insomnia. After a couple of long and tiring red-eye flights, our subconscious mind has learned to dread sleeping on the plane. The whole experience of being in the plane reminds our subconscious mind of the unpleasant experience it had in the past, which makes falling asleep difficult. This conditioned reflex goes on and on in a vicious cycle. To interrupt this cycle, you can meditate, listen to the soft, soothing music, or read a relaxing book. You can also try a sleeping pill after discussing this with your doctor. This may interrupt the reflex, generate confidence, form a new reflex, and break the habit. Remember that a giraffe sleeps standing, and you can too!
Here are a few tips to help you get started in the right direction.
- Look around. Everyone is sleeping, and you too can sleep.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Slip-ons are better than tight socks and shoes.
- Stretch your legs and your back prior to retiring to your seat.
- Use an eyeshade and earplugs. I found those expensive noise canceling headsets from Bose worth the price.
- Support your back, especially if you have a back problem. You can try inflatable pillows to support your lower back. I have found Travelon First Class Sleeper immensely helpful on those long trips. You can buy this pillow from Amazon for less than 30 dollars.
- You can also, after discussing it with your physician, try an extra-strength tylenol or other pain medicine if back pain, neck pain, or leg pain bothers you.
- Use the power of positive visualization to your advantage. Imagine that you are laying down in your bed with your head on your comfy pillow.
- Do a brief prayer before you retire to sleep. If anyone says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt, it shall be done.
- Do not get restless and upset if you cannot sleep. Just relax. When you feel the discomfort while playing tennis or working on a project, you still keep going. Do the same thing while trying to sleep on the plane.