Red-eye flights offer a number of benefits, including quieter cabins and shorter lines at the airport. Best of all, you arrive in the morning so you can spend more time enjoying your actual vacation. The trouble is that overnight flights can sometimes disrupt our natural sleep patterns, resulting in jet lag. But that doesn't have to be the case. With a little bit of preparation, those jet lag effects can be easily reduced or eliminated. To help make your next red-eye a relaxing experience, here are some useful tips to try before, during and after your flight.
Prior to boarding
Since getting a decent night's sleep on the plane can make a huge difference in how you feel once you land, try selecting a window seat if at all possible. That way, you'll be able to get some uninterrupted rest without the person next to you climbing over you on their way to the restroom.
When packing, don't forget to keep a plush neck pillow handy to help make you as comfortable as possible. If you plan on staying at a hotel when you land, consider calling ahead and splurging on a relaxing in-room massage. After flying all night, your sore muscles will thank you.
In the air
Relaxation is the name of the game, so be sure to dress in loose, comfortable clothing when you're on the plane. Regardless of whether you're traveling for work, leave the neckties, suit jackets and anything formal in your garment bag. You wouldn't sleep in them at home, so why wear them in the air? Although cabin lights are usually dimmed during red-eye flights, wear a soft eye mask to block out any distractions. It's a silent reminder to the flight crew and your fellow travelers that you're currently off-the-clock and looking for some rest.
For many travelers, the simple act of brushing their teeth helps them fall asleep faster. So before takeoff, visit the lavatory with your toothbrush and a bottle of water. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes. If your red-eye flight is not fully booked, check with your flight attendant about relocating to an available seat with no one directly behind it. That way, you'll be able to fully recline without disturbing anyone else.
When you've arrived
Stiffness can lead to soreness, so once you've gotten off of the plane, take a short walk — preferably outdoors — to help your tight muscles unwind naturally. A dose of fresh air will quickly bring oxygen to your body's cells, thus increasing your energy and alertness after a long red-eye flight. Plus, the warm sunlight will do wonders for your mood.
Have a fresh set of clean clothes ready to change into as soon as possible. Shedding your wrinkled flight attire doesn't just feel good; it provides a psychological pick-me-up as well.
Though it might seem like caffeine would help, avoid the temptation of consuming sugary energy drinks immediately upon landing. You're much more likely to overstress your body and crash hard. Likewise, abstain from alcohol for several hours; adding additional toxins to your system won't do you any favors. Instead, reach for a sugar-free beverage with electrolytes. These ionized minerals help support neurological function, muscle strength and general health, making them exactly what you need when you're trying to recharge.
Finally, take things a bit easier than usual on the day you arrive. Though normally you might be able to handle a round of golf, a trip to a museum and a family reunion, red-eye flights can take their toll on even the most seasoned travelers. So spread out your activities for after you're able to get a full night's sleep again. By the next morning, you'll feel refreshed, energized and ready to enjoy your vacation.