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My Surefire Secret for Sleeping on Planes

Sssshdon't tell anyone, but I think I have the best way of sleeping on planes for backpackers around. My techniques can be used not only in planes, but in any other location where standard seating is rows of cramped seats with minimal amounts of legroom.

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There are many other ways than mine to sleep on a plane, and you should, by all means, experiment. You may just find one better than mine.

Materials Needed:

  1. A 28 liter or above backpack with a light-enough frame that will allow it to sit comfortably on your lap.
  2. A packtowel or light sweater (not wool) that will not irritate the skin on your face, and will dry quickly if drooled on. I use the packtowel.
  3. A small MP3 player loaded with relaxing chill music and a comfortable set of in-ear earbuds.

Step 1 Preparing your pack

The idea of this technique is to allow your head free movement, while giving it a platform to rest on.

If your pack is on the shorter side (vertically), fill it with items (preferably soft) stacked up inside to give it more height than the frame supports. If your pack tends to be longer (vertically) try taking some items out of the top pockets and transferring them to the lower pockets (and while they're out of your pack, I'd suggest taking a hard look at each of them and asking if you really need such a big pack)

Once you have arranged your pack so that the harder and edged items are on the bottom, and the soft items are on the top: Continue to step 2.

Step 2 Placing your pack comfortably on your lap

At the beginning, this can be the most challenging step. Finding the perfect place to brace your pack on your legs/lap is the most important step to allowing comfortable extended sleep on moving vehicles.

Make sure when you place your pack on your legs, that each end of the frame is evenly distributed between them. This will prevent one leg from falling asleep (and the subsequent limping down the hall to the bathroom with an apparent peg-leg). Also make sure that you choose a place with lots of meat. In theory, most of the weight should be redirected to the seatback in front of youbut not all of it. Your legs will still need to support at least 30% of the weight.

The beauty of using your backpack to support your upper body is that the frame of the pack will act as a shock absorber, stabilizing the motions of the vehicle you're contained in.

My general rule of thumb when positioning my pack on my lap, is this: I take my arms and wrap them around the circumference of the pack and clasp my hands together on the other side (preferably between the frame and rest of the pack, this can make theft while you are unconscious nearly impossible). If my shoulders feel strained, I move the pack's base towards me. If I feel my neck being compressed as my head rests on the shoulderblades (instead of on the pack, where it should be) I move it forward.

Play around with it until you find what's comfortable for you.

Step 3 Create the perfect pillow with your packtowel (or article of clothing)

Each of these steps is important, but this may be the most vital: We all have preferences when we are at home (wherever that may be) about the firmness of our pillows. The amount of pressure our head feels when lying sideways on an object can drastically affect how much (if any) sleep we get. Try the following to customize your pillow for maximum comfort:

The rule is this: The more folds you make, the more padding you'll have.

If you like having a padded surface for your head (or you have a major aversion to the surface of your backpack) you will want to fold the packtowel (other items vary) three or four times before you reach the comfort you are searching. If you (like me) prefer to have just a hint of padding (usually this corresponds with liking a firm pillow on your bed at home) between you and your backpack, one or two folds will suffice. You can't fold more than 4-5 times, as the postage-stamp-sized piece of material left won't be big enough for your priority-mail-envelope-sized head.

Now place this newly customized pillow between your head and the backpack and allow your full weight to be distributed by the backpacks frame between your lap and the seat in front of you. Start up your MP3 player. Enjoy a supported, comfortable, and less-bumpy nights sleep.

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Posted in Traveling Post Date 04/29/2017


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