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Best Sleep AIDS for Air Travel

We often go red eye, flights from 10 pm on. It is cheaper, better onboard seating is available and airports are much less crowded. Most important, we find ways to sleep during our flights. Our most frequent trips, about twice a month, are one-hour flights between Tucson, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We also take six-hour flights cross country several times a year, and about once a year we do the eight-hour-plus journey to Europe or South America.

The best sleep aid, of course, is to book a first-class seat that folds down to a bed. However, the cost is often twice as much or more than a regular airline seat. However, by taking a red eye, we often find there are many empty seats available. That allows stretching out on a two-across seat by removing arm rests, and if you’re very lucky, you can do it on a three- or five-across seat. If all else fails, get your seat back as far back as it will go, and do the best you can.

Once you’re settled, dim out the overhead light. As Murphy’s Law requires, there will be some nerd nearby who wants to read all night with his light burning bright. Take along a sleep mask. They cost a couple of bucks, but I always travel with several cheap black masks with the eye holes taped up. I get some funny looks from airport security, but never had any trouble.

If music helps, take along a small tape or CD player and some of your own music tapes or discs. I often take along books on tape or CD, and read myself to sleep. Your local library or a subscription service is available to get both older books and the latest murder mysteries and Hollywood tell-all books you’ve been meaning to read.

If you want to snooze undisturbed during your flight, eat and drink very lightly before boarding, with one exception. A bit of booze can help you get to sleep. I doubt if I’ve had more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a year since one night when I drank myself into a sick stupor at age 18. However, when I can’t sleep at any time, a short shot of brandy is more effective than any sleeping pill. It works wonders when I’m flying red eye or on one of those loooong ocean-crossing flights.

In general, if possible, go aboard your flight when your body is ready to get some shut-eye. Get comfy and have yourself some happy dreams.