You’re crouched into a position your yoga teacher would be proud of and your noise-canceling head phones are pumping the soothing sounds of the ocean into your ears. But after exhausting every available Ryan Gosling movie on demand and putting on your Breakfast at Tiffany’s inspired eye-mask, sleep still won’t come. At this point it seems like your 16-hour flight is doomed. Well, not Snakes on a Plane doomed, but still pretty lame. If you’re curious about how to count sheep in the clouds, these sleep aid solutions might be just the ticket for you.


For the heavy duty dozers, consult your doctor and they should be able to hook you up. Usually your doctor will prescribe something like Ambien®, Rozerem®, or Lunesta®. These types of drugs chemically slow your brain’s activity so you can get some much-needed shut eye. Take one of these puppies and you should be asleep within 30 minutes of swallowing. Prescription sleep pills tend to last 7-8 hours, so check your surroundings and plan to wake up about 30 minutes before you land to get readjusted. Make sure you have a good chunk of flight time ahead of you before popping any type of sleeping pill. I guarantee you’ll feel like a zombie and look like Courtney Love in the 90s if you need to wake up mid-medication. 

Over the Counter 

Not in the mood to sit in a stuffy doctor’s office? Get your hands on some sleep-inducing goodness at your local drug store. Over the counter sleep aids can work just as well and are really easy to come by. These drugs are safe enough to sell in stores and their main ingredient is usually an antihistamine. Antihistamines make you really drowsy, which makes you want to fall asleep. Say helloooo to napping in the fetal position and sweet dreams of SkyMall. The downside being that sometimes the grogginess carries over and you just might spend your first day in Spain looking like you desperately need a cappuccino. But if you’re in a pinch and need to catch up on your beauty sleep before making your international debut in Tokyo, over the counter medication could work out for you. Brands like Unisom® and Sleepinal® are at most grocery and drug stores. Costco even has their own line of sleep aids. And if Costco’s on board with it, how can you go wrong? They’re essentially the mob boss of warehouse stores.

Au Naturel 

Want to catch some shut eye without the pills and potions? Try all natural supplements like melatonin. This hormone monitors your body’s sleep cycle to make sure you nab some quality Zzzs. Or buy some Valerian herbal supplements. This plant-based solution is accredited with relieving anxiety and enhancing sleep quality. So no more rolling around in your upright seat wondering if you left your curling iron plugged in or not. If all else fails, try to get your hands on some chamomile tea in the terminal and practice your deep breathing in-flight. And hey, if you look crazy with all your herbal remedies, neck pillows, and eye masks, just consider the fact that you’re giving your fellow passengers some free in-flight entertainment. I’m pretty sure that counts as your charitable act for the quarter.

Or you can always treat yourself to some Zzzs by downing a few glasses of wine before you board your plane. Ask your flight attendant to keep the drinks coming and prepare to drift off to dreamland. Who needs the Sandman when you’ve got the Grape Man? And even if you don’t fall asleep, you’ll feel much less bothered by the screaming child kicking your chair.

If you decide to take any type of medication, consult your doctor to make sure the pills and dosage are OK for you. And remember it’s never kosher to mix medications or combine alcohol with drugs. Well, in some countries it is, but wait until you get there to find out. I’m looking at you, Portugal!