It’s one thing to fall asleep in business class, stretched out in a fully reclining seat with a fluffy comforter and all the comforts of first-class flight, but it’s quite another endeavor to attempt some shut-eye when you’re stuck in coach. For those in search of some rest on a long flight, a handful of travel accessories stand out from the pack, using innovative design and technology to help passengers get some REM sleep at 35,000 feet.
From a spine-aligning pillow to a stellar set of sleep-friendly headphones, here are five travel accessories to make sleep a bit less elusive on a cramped flight — even in the middle seat.
Align the Spine
For many travelers, the most frustrating part of trying to fall asleep is that reclining is impossible. Since the spine is upright while you’re in a seated position, it’s responsible for holding your neck up, and cramps are inevitable if you lean against the side of the plane. Luckily, engineers have come up with a way to get some decent sleep while sitting up straight. The Trtl pillow, named for its appearance, is made with a strong plastic internal support system to give your neck a rest, offering support while keeping your head in a neutral position. Covered in soft fleece, it’s fully adjustable, not to mention washable, and it flattens out for easy storage.
Wrap It Up
One product that exemplifies the concept of “fashion meets function” is the Sleeper Scarf, which looks like a stylish, oversized infinity scarf but is actually a discreet travel pillow with a light blanket built in. A quick unzipping of a hidden compartment reveals a valve that can be used to inflate the neck pillow with five or six breaths.
Similar to the U-shaped travel pillows sold in airports everywhere, the cushion can be adjusted to your comfort level, while the scarf itself can be partially unfurled and draped around your body for warmth. When the plane lands, everything deflates in seconds with a simple valve release. The scarf is sold in black, grey, turquoise, pink and a limited-edition gray-scale leopard print.
Smell the Flowers
An eye mask is a godsend when you need to block out light, but add a contoured design, some cooling gel inserts and aromatic botanicals to soothe the senses, and you’re much more likely to enjoy a deeper sleep. The PureCare Dream Composer Sleep Shade is made with a blend of essential oils — lavender, jasmine, neroli and jojoba — known to soothe the nervous system and improve sleep quality. Its light, natural scent is a welcome reminder of a spa experience even when you’re feeling far from zen.
Watch the Light Fade
For a truly next-level descent into sleep, a little light therapy can go a long way. Enter the Glo to Sleep Mask, which lulls you into a restful state by calming down your beta brain waves and reaching an alpha state, which is critical for deep relaxation. With adjustable brightness settings controlling a series of soft blue lights, you set the timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes and let the light therapy do its thing — setting your mind at ease and allowing your body time to adjust to a calmer state.
Shut It Out
A great pair of noise-cancelling headphones has long been a traveler’s best friend, but as planes get more crowded, every inch counts. So, it might be wise to invest in a smaller pair of in-ear headphones with similar capabilities that take up less space. Especially great for side sleepers who can’t just lean straight back into a plane seat, Bedphones offers a small, smart solution to help block out noise. Rubber-coated ear hooks made from memory wire help the buds stay in place, and if you choose to tether them to your phone or tablet, a free iOS or Android app activates a sleep timer to cut the music as you drift off to dreamland.