Taking a red-eye flight is a great way to not waste valuable daylight time. However, if you are not one who can easily fall asleep sitting upright, a red-eye flight can be miserable experience. If you are unable to fall asleep while flying, you could be tired and cranky the following day, which is not a good thing when on vacation or having to rush to a business meeting. If you are able to sleep, you may find yourself suffering from a backache and tension headaches the following day. That is no fun either.Here are some tips to help your survive your upcoming red-eye flight.


When we are woken up from a deep sleep for any reason, even when sleeping in the comfort of our own bed, we discover it is difficult to fall back asleep and ultimately feel tired the following day. Think about this when booking your red-eye flight and avoid trips that require you to switch to a connecting flight. Doing so means you will have to wake up, gather your items and walk across the airport to your connecting flight. Try to book a flight that goes directly to your destination to ensure you have a better flight and a good night’s sleep.

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Where you sit can help make your red-eye flight a bit more comfortable. For example, sitting next to the window means you can easily bunch up a jacket or blanket against the window so you can lean up against it and sleep. This could make your flight a little bit more comfortable and bearable.

However, if you are one who has to get up regularly throughout the night, try to book yourself an aisle seat. This way you can easily get up and go to the bathroom without disturbing those sleeping next to you. If possible, upgrade yourself or ask for a free upgrade to first class. You will have larger, more comfortable seating during your flight.

Related: Should Children Be Banned From Red-Eye Flights?


Though you want to wear comfortable clothing for your red-eye flight, you do not want to walk through the airport in your flannel pajama pants, a T-shirt and fuzzy bunny slippers. But you do want to wear loose-fitting clothing that is made from breathable fabrics. Wear shoes that can easily be slipped on and off to help maximize your comfort level.

Survival Pack

Make up a red-eye flight survival pack to keep in your carry-on. What is kept in the survival pack depends on each individual flyer. Here are some suggested items to pack in your red-eye survival pack:

  • Eye mask to block out the light
  • Earplugs to block out cabin noise
  • Warm socks
  • Lightweight blanket
  • Small pillow – square, rectangle or U-shaped
  • Medication – if you need help falling asleep (talk to your physician before taking any sleep aids)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste – brush up before going to sleep or just before landing
  • Large bottle of water – purchase before boarding and drink when you wake up

Related: 7 Foolproof Ways to Beat a Red-Eye Flight

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Food And Beverage

If you want to ensure a full night’s sleep while taking a red-eye flight, it might be best to limit your fluid intake. This will reduce the amount of times you will need to get up during the flight to use the bathroom. Though you want to limit how much you drink before and during your flight, you want to make sure you drink plenty of water when you wake up. This will help get your body ready for the next day. It is also a good idea to limit your caffeine intake the day leading up to your red-eye flight.

Avoid eating the meal cart service on the plane. Not only are these meals filled with high amounts of salts and other preservatives, but your body will think you have plenty of time before going to bed. Trick your mind and body into thinking it is bed time when you board the flight by eating a healthy dinner earlier in the evening.

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Set your cell phone alarm to wake you up 30 minutes before expected arrival time. This will give you time to fully wake up, go to the bathroom, change your clothes and freshen up before having to get off of the plane. This will reduce the chances of you feeling rushed by having to gather your belongings and rush off the plane immediately after waking up.

Sometimes taking a red-eye flight is unavoidable. During busy travel times, daytime flights fill up fast and other personal and work commitments may force us to have to fly when everyone else is sleeping. Do not let this negatively affect your vacation or business trip. Make the necessary plans and preparations and your red-eye flight will be a little bit more bearable.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.