TravelWhat Are the Best—And Safest—Sleeping Pills for Flights?
Why Early Morning Flights Are The Best Flights
Though it may be tempting to start off your vacation by sleeping in, you’re actually much better off booking an early-morning flight. In fact, Travel and Leisure suggests that you should exclusively fly in the early morning. The reason? You’ll have a much better chance of getting to your destination on time (or at least close to it). Fewer delays Early-morning flights are less likely to be delayed than those that happen in the afternoon or evening. Delays reportedly start around 8am each day and then get worse until they’ve reached a peak around 6pm. The reason is air traffic.
If noise-cancelling headphones don’t help you doze off, you may need to consider a more heavy-duty fix: sleeping pills for flights. Skip them if you’re heading west or on a short trip (just stay awake instead), and reserve it for those overnight flights when you’re jumping across multiple time zones, says Aneesa Das, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at the Ohio State University. Some pills are stronger than others, and some have wonky side effects that may outweigh the extra zzzs. Here’s what to know about three common sleeping pills for flights.
Ambien—the most powerful option on this list and the only one that requires a prescription—works as a sedative-hypnotic medication that slows your brain activity to make you feel very sleepy. It’ll knock you out good—maybe even too good. Some users experience retroactive amnesia, which means you could wake up mid-flight, have a full conversation with the flight attendant, and have no memory of it when morning comes, Das says. Ambien can also lead to sleepwalking, which could result in some awkward bump-ins on the plane. But it's not all bad. Zolpidem (the generic name for Ambien) has been shown to fight off jet lag, finds a study published in Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.
Active shooter scare at Honolulu airport delays flights
HONOLULU (AP) — Flights were being delayed and hundreds of people were waiting to go through security screening at Honolulu's airport on Tuesday after an active shooter scare. (Leslie Ryan via AP) HONOLULU (AP) — Flights were being delayed and hundreds of people were waiting to go through security screening at Honolulu's airport on Tuesday Passengers who had already passed through screening and were boarding flights at Terminal 2 were told to go through security checkpoint again, which was holding up flights.
The over-the-counter medication is easy to pick up at the drugstore when you’re stocking up on travel-sized shampoos and other carry-on essentials. Diphenhydramine, the same antihistamine found in Benadryl, will likely put you to sleep, though you may pay the price once you land. “It makes us feel really groggy when we wake up, and it can make us feel really hungover,” Das says. The antihistamine may also leave you with a dry mouth that those tiny airplane cups of water just can’t quench (not a good situation since flying in general can make you dehydrated). Still, Das says it’s okay to take so long as you’ve tolerated it in the past.
The hormone occurs naturally in the body, but taking an extra dose helps induce sleep and adjust your circadian clock. That will help you function better at your destination, Das says. Start taking melatonin a few days before your trip, about four to six hours before your bedtime, so that you’re ready to hit the pillow 30 minutes to an hour earlier than normal, Das says. A review from U.K. researchers found melatonin decreases jet lag if you take it close to your target bedtime at your destination, especially if you’re traveling across five or more time zones. The researchers found doses of .5 and 5 milligrams were equally effective at preventing jet lag, though the larger (maximum) dose will help you fall asleep quicker and sleep better. Another plus? There are no major side effects to worry about. (Note: The FDA does regulate dietary supplements such as melatonin, but these regulations are less strict than those for prescription or over-the-counter medications; check with your doctor for an appropriate recommendation.)
When to Book Labor Day Flights to Get the Best Deal
If you’re planning on going away this Labor Day weekend you should plan on purchasing that plane ticket soon. Travel site Hipmunk recently took a look at historical data from past Labor Day weekends to determine the best time to book your flights. As it turns out, the right time to buy is the first week in July. That means the right time to buy flights for that September vacation is next week. Historic data shows that flight booking prices for the three-day weekend reach their top amount of savings during those first seven days on the month.
No matter which medication you decide to go with (if any), there are a few ground rules to follow. First, give it a test run at home. “You want to know how your body tolerates it before you go,” Das says. Then, once you’re settled into your seat, pass on booze and don’t pop the medicine until the flight attendants have gone over safety instructions.
This article was originally published in December 2016. It has been updated with new information.
Strike disrupts flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.
AIR FRANCE KLM-NETHERLANDS/STRIKE (PIX):Strike disrupts flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Monday morning due to a strike by ground staff at KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France-KLM. © Reuters Aircrafts are seen on the tarmac at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. REUTERS/Anthony Deutsch The two-hour work stoppage from 0600 GMT to 0800 GMT was intended to influence ongoing negotiations between trade unions and the airline on pay and working conditions.
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