There are some business travelers who look forward to their flights for one very specific reason -- to sleep. I can see why. During a flight, you are often limited to what you can do, giving you a chance to rest. Unless you've got Wi-Fi, contact can be minimal while up in the air.
Additionally, the hustle and bustle of managing the airport and everything leading up to the business trip can be physically and mentally exhausting. Even if you take advantage of the services that help make the travel experience better (such as TSA PreCheck or Global Entry), the process can be tiring.
While you're not alone in wanting some shuteye, I know that some travelers have a hard time sleeping during a flight. After much trial and error and many conversations with colleagues, here are some of the best ways I've found to have a good sleep while traveling for business.
1. Stick to a normal sleep schedule.
This may be a challenge for some folks, but try to have a consistent sleep schedule in your everyday life. By doing this, you can help regulate your sleep schedule when traveling. And if you are aiming to nap and wake up rested, avoid sleeping aids.
Note that this is especially important when traveling internationally. Fortunately, most international flights leaving the U.S. take place during the evening hours, which will hopefully make it easier for you to get some rest. If you are flying domestically, it's still important to keep your sleep pattern as regular as possible. This way you'll be able to adapt much more quickly.
2. Book nonstop flights.
Booking nonstop flights is an obvious way to maximize the potential for sleep. You don't have to worry about catching a connecting flight and you can avoid annoying interruptions just as you're falling asleep. Once you're settled in, you can increase your chance for rest.
3. Choose a window seat.
I mention choosing a window seat mainly because you can rest up against the wall of the plane. Just be sure to bring disinfecting wipes -- that and other areas of the plane usually don't get wiped down between each flight. Another plus is that you won't be woken by people walking through the aisle.
4. Dress comfortably.
This can get tricky when traveling for business, but try to dress as comfortably as possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to go about this that will keep you comfortable but still show that you are dressed to impress. Usually slacks, a comfortable shirt, and a blazer work for both men and women.
On another note, I definitely notice a difference in the way I am treated when I dress up for the airport versus when I travel in casual clothes. And I'm not the only one. Several of my colleagues swear that dressing up changes the entire travel experience.
5. Engage in your regular bedtime rituals, including taking out contacts and brushing your teeth.
Try to follow as many of your bedtime rituals as possible, such as brushing your teeth, taking out your contacts, and washing your face. Granted, this is not always an option if you are going straight into the office or a conference shortly after landing. Still, try to bring the practice of prepping for bed when you're trying to nap on your flight.
One of my colleagues had an excellent idea for helping her sleep. She started using lavender oil on her pillow and in her bedroom. Now she's conditioned herself to be sleepy when she smells lavender, an item she says is always the first thing packed in her luggage and is often layered onto her skin when she travels.
6. Take advantage of technology.
Now, I know it is not recommended to view a screen an hour prior to sleeping, but for most people, it's easier said than done. If you do watch a show before sleep, consider downloading an episode and playing it at a low volume so that it is just enough to comfort you but not loud enough to distract you.
Even better, get in the habit of listening to an audiobook or podcast before sleep. This way you can get relaxed when you put the same audiobook or podcast on during your flight. I've used podcasts and downloaded a few YouTube videos to help me relax and sleep when I never thought I'd be able to.
7. Upgrade your seat.
If you are going to be on your flight for some time, consider upgrading your seat to business or premium class. You'll have more room to relax and will hopefully have a better rest because of it. Remember that many airline and travel rewards credit cards can help you upgrade your experience (or help you earn points or miles for a free trip).