Long Flight, Sleep Tight?

Cool products for a good night’s sleep at 30,000 feet.

Road Warriors come in two basic varieties — those who can sleep on airplanes and those who can’t. Those who can sleep in-flight arrive at their destination refreshed, alert, and primed to do business. Those who can’t tend to crash — ideally into a hotel bed, but sometimes in the middle of a meeting. For those insomniac fliers, we evaluated the best stuff available to promote sleep at 30,000 feet.

Product/Price Description Sweet Dreams Nightmare

Bucky T-200 Travel Pillow

Price: $24.95

Billed as a “soft, fleecy beanbag,” Bucky’s U-shaped travel pillow is filled with buckwheat hulls and covered in washable fabric. The pillow comes in a variety of earth-tone colors and in a wildlife print. If “airplane neck” is at the root of your ills, this pillow will solve your problems. Buckwheat-filled pillows conform to your neck; foam pillows don’t. Bucky will send you extra buckwheat if you prefer a firmer pillow. Unfortunately, sleep-induced happiness involves more than easing a stiff neck. Chatty seatmates still pose barriers to slumber. And unlike inflatable pillows, Bucky can be a pain to pack.

Sharper Image Noisebuster Extreme Headphones

Price: $69.95

Noise-cancellation headphones generate white noise that neutralizes annoying sounds inside the cabin and out. The headphones’ VariActive control lets you adjust the degree of noise cancellation. These headphones transform cabin noise into a soothing hum. An adapter and a portable audio pack let you listen to music, with or without the noise-reduction feature. Although these headphones are great at neutralizing sound, they don’t block noise completely. So if you’re seated near a crying infant, you may still be in for a long, sleepless ride.


Price: about $7 for a bottle of 100.

Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, is secreted in abundance after the sun sets. Appropriate dosages vary from person to person: Experts suggest you start small — less than half of a milligram. Simply put, melatonin makes you feel as if you’re ready to sleep. And unlike traditional sleeping pills, you wake feeling refreshed, not hungover. If you’re crossing time zones, melatonin can also ease jet lag. Melatonin’s side effects are minimal, but the FDA has not approved it. As with any substance, there are those who should avoid it: children, pregnant women, and those with severe allergies.

Eagle Creek Comfort Eyeshade

Price: $10

Block out light, flickering screens, or the sight of your drooling seatmate with this fleece-lined eyeshade. It conforms to the shape of your face, but it isn’t so tight that you can’t blink. Darkness triggers the hormones that bring on sleep. Even when you’re not on the road, you may want to sleep with the mask: Recent studies show that a lack of darkness, not just a lack of sleep, may cause fatigue. The only downside to an eye mask is that it may not help much if the rest of the cabin is full of noisy activity.