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Travel The red-eye plan: A five-step routine for overnight flights

Before takeoff

If you’ve managed to snag a coveted row to yourself, use the free pillow and blankets to set it up, lest someone else tries to moves in. If you’re not so lucky, inflate any neck cushions and find a comfy sleeping position while others are boarding. This way you’ll be ready to nod off as soon as you want. If you’re on an aisle, try raising the armrest up about three-quarters of the way so you have something to lean on. (Feel around for a lever underneath, near the back.)

After takeoff

Once the seatbelt sign is off, change into your plane clothes. These should be comfy and breathable, and provide enough coverage so that if you end up sleeping in an awkward position and the blanket slips off, you won’t inadvertently flash your neighbour. Trade tight jeans and stiff shirts for looser-fitting styles. If you wear a bra, try switching it for one without underwire. Finally, remove your footwear and put on fresh socks.

Meal service

If you want to sleep, the only hard-and-fast rule for what you should consume and when is: Know what works for you. If drinking alcohol before bed typically means a fitful rest, you can bet the end result will be the same once you’re in the air. Some people swear fasting prevents jet lag, while others could never sleep with a rumbling tummy. Stick with what you do on land. If you’re using a sleep-aid, set an alarm preflight so you remember to take it early enough.

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When the lights dim

Regardless of whether you’ll be sleeping, head to the lavatory for some typical evening prep. It is still the end of a day, after all. And If you do want to get some shut-eye, sticking close to your usual sleep routine will signal to your mind and body that it’s time to rest. Take out contact lenses so your eyes don’t get dry. Wash your face (a disposable wipe will do) and slather on the moisturizer. And, please, brush your teeth.

Before landing

Much like at night, certain rituals help our bodies and brains understand it’s wake-up time. First, do some stretches to get blood flowing. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, throw on a bit of makeup, et cetera. Use a deodorant or body wipe to freshen up. Finally, change into your day clothes – including fresh socks and underwear that you stashed in an easy-to-access carry-on bag. It might be awhile before you can check into the hotel and shower.

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