Preface: I have always been a semi-weird sleeper. On the weirdness scale, I’m at about a 4- not to the degree of a total freak who sleepwalks out of the house at 3 am, however apparently I do have some strange sleeping habits. When I was younger, my mom and I used to have a “slumber party” in her room while my dad was away for a few days flying. I remember one time when I was 8, my mom told me that I had talked in my sleep in the middle of the night, saying, “Pringles. Pringlesssss.” Either this is a case of child obesity, or just a little girl who loves chips and also happens to be a sleep talker. Or both? In 5th grade, I had a sleepover at my friend’s house and slapped her in my sleep. I have no recollection of this event. (Or do I…?) ((No. I don’t. ))
Sleeping on an airplane is an interesting concept. Unless you are in business class on a 5+ hour flight with lie-flat seats (refer back to my “London Calling” post if you’re curious), then you are doomed to a 90 degree seat that MAY be able to angle at 96 degrees upon takeoff if you’re lucky.
For decades people have tried all sorts of remedies for airplane insomnia. Neck pillows, traveling with giant blankets, ear plugs, fuzzy socks, noise canceling headphones, etc. Personally, I have no trouble sleeping in the sky because I am forced into the situation so often.
“What’s the secret? What brand of neck pillow do you recommend?” I have never tried a neck pillow, so I am not apt to answer that question.
Honestly, it just depends on the circumstance. If you’re in a window seat, using the window as a makeshift pillow can work. In this situation, you are gifted with a little more leg room on the window side, so you don’t have to worry about your legs hitting the person next to you. Using the side of a plane as a pillow pet is not ideal, however you can’t complain because you have it much better than the aisle guy.
Aisle seats aren’t for sleeping. Let’s face it. When you sit in the aisle, you have the responsibility of getting up to let other passengers out of the row if they need to use the restroom. Plus, in the aisle seat you are overexposed to the prowling flight attendants. One moment you’re off in dreamland and the next you awake with the pang of nerve damage inflicted on you by the drink cart that just hit your foot as it passed by. I mean if you like interrupted sleeping time, then this spot is for YOU!
Middle seats are a gamble. If you happen to be sitting next to someone you know, I say go for it. However, if you’re like me and primarily travel alone, use at your own risk. You can’t let your legs run free, for fear of touching the stranger next to you. And again if you’re me, your head could end up on an unfamiliar shoulder.
Yep. When I sleep sitting up, which I frequently do, my head becomes deadweight and swings back and forth like a tetherball. If I’m lucky, it will land in the realms of my seat space, but more times than I would like to admit I have woken up to find my head either:
a. on a stranger’s shoulder
b. invading the personal space of the passenger next to me
or c. halfway into the aisle (if I’m in the aisle seat)
I’ll even go as far as saying that last year, when I was flying constantly I remember waking up to find my head on the shoulder of the man next to me (who was wide awake) with a little spot of drool on my chin. I had no clue how long my head had been in the way, because, well, I’m asleep!! How embarrassing.
And sometimes it’s not just my head that causes problems. My arms and legs tend to have a mind of their own. Last week on my way to Atlanta I fell asleep and woke up realizing that my fist was resting on the edge of the seat of the woman next to me. I quickly folded my arms across my chest and shut my eyes before I could catch the woman’s glance.
But despite my weird habits, I can sleep on a plane, so hah!
Here’s the real key to sleeping soundly on a plane. Are you ready?
If you’re aircraft has personal TV’s on the seats, hit the “listen” or music button. Go to On Air (the radio) and hit the channel called Sleep Soundly (or channel 5). Plug your headphones in, turn the volume down low, and I promise you, you will be knocked out within 5 minutes. The soothing sounds of the rainforest and symphonies are the perfect way to relax and forget that you are on a plane with at least 150 other people who are just as uncomfortable as you.
I cannot take credit for the above secret. If this advice works for you, thank my mom. She is the one who gifted me with this knowledge a couple months ago. Thanks, mom, for not only helping me, but also helping all of the other people reading this blog.
An Open Letter To and From The Dream Crushers
I think the only thing more uncomfortable than sleeping on a plane is waking someone up to go to the restroom. An airplane is a melting pot of personalities. Sometimes you win the lotto and sit next to nice, friendly people and other times you never speak a word to the person you will sit in close proximity to for the next couple of hours. And if your case is the latter, it makes it even that much more unbearable to wake up the person next to you.
Currently on my way to LA, I am in a window seat and the woman next to me is in the aisle. She is armed with a personal blanket from home AND a neck pillow. You go, girl.
However, she and I have barely spoken. Right when we took off, she pulled out her sleeping weapons, tossing and turning frequently. The signs of an unsuccessful sleep. When the drink cart came around for the first time, we both unlatched our tray tables to get snacks. The flight attendant handed us pretzels and cookies and immediately she put hers on my tray, saying nothing. Was she playing Alpha, thinking she can use my tray table too? Or was she being nice? I couldn’t decide because she’s in her 30’s. I awkwardly glanced over and inquire, “Do you not want these?” She responded with one word, “No.”
After she drank her water she attempted sleep again, this time more successful than the last. Maybe neck pillows do work?
By about halfway through this flight, I needed to use the restroom. This woman had the aisle seat, so it’s her responsibility to let me out if I have to go right? We all know this.
I tried to make it as painless as possible. I even tried to hold it until she stirred, so I could then wake her up when she was only half asleep. But I drank a lot of water: my full glass that the flight attendant handed me, and half of my Nestle 24 oz. water bottle. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I lightly tapped her shoulder. She awoke wide-eyed, looking straight at the ceiling, as if Doctor Frankenstein’s monster was just brought back to life. Her head slowly turned toward me and I squeaked out “Hi. Sorry, I need to use the restroom.”
I expected a groan of some sort and about 30 seconds of fumbling with her things before letting me out.
Instead, she closed her tray table and looked at me. She expected me to literally crawl over her to get out. And me being the one who actually needed to go, I did what I had to do.
When I came back she was asleep again, so I grabbed the seat in front of me and pushed myself off the floor, hurling my body into my window seat so as not to stir her sleep. I didn’t.
All this to say, if you are in the aisle, be nice about it. You chose the seat, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t teenage girls feel terrible about kindly waking you up. Just be courteous.
And maybe don’t pick the aisle next time?
And to someone sitting in the window or middle seat, please be courteous when having to wake someone up. Lightly tap their shoulder and say excuse me, instead of trying to yell in their face or hitting them to wake them up. Also, if you can hold it a little longer, do so and see if the person next to you wakes up in the meantime. Even better, wait until they get up to go to the restroom, and then go. That’s a win-win for both of you! Don’t be that guy who has to get up 15 times in one flight to “stretch his legs”, climbing over everyone in the row.
If that’s you, maybe pick an aisle seat next time?
The Fly Girl