If you have trouble sleeping during a flight, a few handy tips can help you to rest easier

Whether you’re on a long-haul flight or a red-eye, sleeping can be a great way to combat boredom and fight jet lag. But going to sleep in an unfamiliar environment can be a challenge for many people, and a crowded, noisy environment can make it almost impossible.

With a little preparation ahead of time, however, you can set yourself up for a refreshing in-flight snooze.

Prepare for Sleep on the Plane

With fluctuating temperatures onboard, often it’s a simple matter of comfort that prevents you from falling asleep. I recommend you wear loose-fitting, light layers to the airport. Choose pants with a relaxed fit and a comfortable shirt with a zip-up sweatshirt or cardigan sweater.

On your feet, wear socks and slip-on shoes. Once you’re in your seat, you can slip off your shoes and either keep your top clothing layer on or remove it, depending on your temperature preference for sleeping.

For me, going to sleep when I’m hungry is nearly impossible. So, make sure that you eat just before you get on board. A small meal or snack will satisfy you without making you feel bloated.

What Hopeful Sleepers Should Bring on a Flight

Next, pack an inflatable pillow in your carry-on. Choose the type that you can blow up with just a few breaths and that has a soft cover. A U-shaped pillow that wraps around your neck is the best choice because it can fully support your head if you have an aisle or middle seat. Waking up on your neighbour’s shoulder or getting bumped into by someone walking through the aisle doesn’t make for the best sleep.

To keep warm, bring a light blanket or pashmina, or drape a sweatshirt over your body. Be sure to buckle your seat belt on top of your blanket so the flight attendant won’t have to wake you to check if it’s fastened.

If you need quiet, put in some earplugs or use noise-cancelling headphones. It’s a great idea to download some soothing songs, sounds or white-noise tracks to your iPod. If light bothers you, an eye mask is a great option to black out any distracting light.

And finally, consider trying an herbal or homeopathic sleep aid. I really don’t recommend taking any strong sleep aids or prescriptions because, let me tell you, I have heard some horror stories.

You never really know how your body will be affected by medications like these. Instead, focus on breathing deeply and slowly, and you should fall asleep in no time!

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.