How To Get A Better Night's Sleep On Your Non-Stop Journey

If you've ever taken an extended road trip, you know the profound relief of pulling up to your hotel or motel at the end of a long day's drive and getting a full night's sleep before embarking on the next leg. But when you're booked on a lengthy non-stop flight, overnight train ride or week-long ocean cruise, you'll have no choice but to try and sleep on your conveyance of choice. Here are some tips to help you keep that non-stop journey from turning into a non-sleep journey.

Sleeping on a Plane

If you've never found yourself able to sleep during a plane flight, stop and think about the circumstances behind your insomnia. If you were only scheduled for a few hours in the air, for instance, you may have been too anxious about waking up in time to relax. If you were stuffed into the rear or bulkhead rows of a coach-class cabin, you may have been surrounded by screaming toddlers or kept awake by crew conversations and lavatory doors slamming shut. The seat itself may have been too narrow or positionally limited, causing back pain and other discomforts.

An international flight can literally keep you in the air for 17 hours or more, so it makes sense to invest in the extra comfort of business class as opposed to coach class. As the name suggests, these seating assignments come with special amenities to help frequent business travelers survive night after night of long-distance journeys. For example, many business class flights include seats that recline all the way back, providing you with a "bed" instead of the equivalent of a reclining chair. The amenities for a night flight include eye shades, ear plugs, toothpaste, toothbrushes -- even pajamas!

If you absolutely must fly coach class, choose a seat away from the bulkheads or rear cabin/lavatory areas. Consider taking a safe over-the-counter sleep aid, but follow the instructions carefully and check with your doctor beforehand. Last but not least, ear plugs and/or sound-canceling headphones can put some aural distance between you and those noisy neighbors.

Sleeping on a Train

Sleeping while in a passenger train seat may be relatively economical, but it can also prove enormously uncomfortable for a cross-country tour. If you're determined to go this route, look for the older style of train cabin equipped with seats that pull out into makeshift beds. If you're willing to pay extra for a non-crippling night's sleep, consider booking space in a couchette. A couchette is a shared cabin with several double-bunk or triple-bunk beds -- not very private, but you can wear ear plugs to drown out the snoring. Private berths are by far the priciest option, with individual sleeper cabins adding as much as $190 to your train expense. 

Sleeping on a Cruise Ship

If you've spent years saving up for that ultimate luxury, an extended cruise on an ocean liner, the last thing you want is to experience unremitting sickness and misery during your hard-earned vacation. Seasickness doesn't have to ruin your cruise, thanks in part to modern anti-nausea medications, but the location of your sleeping quarters will play a major role in how well how feel and how comfortably you sleep. If you know you get a little shaky when the waves are high, insist on a cabin positioned as close to the center of the ship as possible. This is the section where you're least likely to feel every little bob, shift and dip. 

Noise is another potential sleep robber on any public conveyance that offers recreational facilities, and cruise ships are no exception. Light sleepers should make sure they don't end up with a cabin on the pool deck, with its late-night parties and noisy deck chairs. Other obnoxious areas to avoid include service areas and low parts of the ship both fore and aft, which contain noisy operational machinery.

Now that you know some secrets for getting a better night's sleep on that marathon non-stop trip, explore the various options available to you, re-evaluate your budget as needed, and take the extra steps to help you actually enjoy your journey. For more information, talk with different airlines or cruise lines about your options. Have a safe (and refreshing) trip!