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Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience

This Is Why You Can’t Sleep on the Plane

If you find yourself stuck awake at 30,000 feet, here’s what you’re doing wrong.

When boarding a plane, you have the purest of intentions: You’re going to use this rare empty stretch of time to catch up on much-needed sleep. You’ll land at your destination bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the world!

But things aren’t ever that simple, are they? In reality, you end up doing all the things that keep you from floating into dreamland. By the time you deplane, you’re tired, disheveled, and your carefully planned trip is off to a shaky start.

To prevent thwarting yet another vacation or business meeting because you’re overtired, figure out what you’re doing that’s making it difficult to sleep—and cut it out. Whether your goal is to squeeze in a catnap during a quick commuter flight or a half dozen REM cycles on a red-eye, these are all the ways you might be sabotaging your mile-high shuteye.

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By Avital Andrews

Avital Andrews, SmarterTravel's editor-at-large, is a travel and lifestyle journalist who is also a contributing editor for AAA's Via magazine. Her stories have been among the 10 most emailed or viewed on the Los Angeles Times, Outside, Sierra, and SmarterTravel websites, and have also appeared in USA Today, HuffPost, Apple News, Business Insider, and many other nationwide outlets. Her travel book, sold at bookstores and on Amazon, is in its fourth edition, and her journalism gets national media attention, including from The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, NPR, and MTV. She's currently working on her first children's book. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: My laptop—the lightweight and stylish HP Spectre x360—since I'm almost always on deadline.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: A round-the-world cruise that makes stops to experience Aurora Borealis, the Olympics opening ceremony, Borneo, Madagascar, the Jerusalem Festival of Light, the Bolivian salt flats, Kenya's Giraffe Manor, the Galapagos, the Maldives, Bora Bora, the Seychelles, and every Disney park. (That itinerary definitely exists, right?)

Travel Motto: I'll steal Saint Augustine's: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Window, always. For the views and also the naps.

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