How To Survive The Red-Eye To Work After A Long Weekend

Though a lot less people will be driving over the holiday weekend, the number of people expected to fly this weekend has increased by almost 10%. A fair number of those fliers will be men and women who want to get as much vacation time in as possible but still be at their desks by 9 am on Tuesday or earlier. And everyone knows the only way to get the most play and still make it to work is to take the red-eye.

Jess Dudley is a marketing manager for L'Oreal and already has 75,000 miles under her belt for this year alone. She flies anywhere from two to eight times a month on average, including the occasional red-eye. She warns that red-eyes result in a tough day at work no matter what (mostly because you aren't sitting on the beach like you were the day before) but she has a few great tips on how to survive the red-eye so you can show up at work and look like a semi-functioning human being at your desk.

  1. Try to reserve a bulkhead or window seat: If you aren't sitting in business class, your next bet is the bulkhead seat in coach. You will get the most leg room and be able to really spread out when you sleep. A window seat is also a good option because you will at least have something to lean on to help you sleep.
  2. Staying hydrated is an extremely important part of surviving the red-eye experience: "The first thing I do when we land is get a huge thing of water and a Diet Coke," said Jess.
  3. If an alcoholic beverage will help you sleep, then drink it up: "I'm not sure if it actually does anything but I like to think a glass of wine helps," said Dudley. Remember, a drink should really be looked at as a night cap and not an excuse to get bombed. After all, you are going to work in just a few hours.
  4. Bring a sleep mask and ear plugs: "If you are flying from West to East you are going to have three hours of sunlight in front of you so you need that mask". Former airline pilot Carolyn Dillon said ear plugs will also help you sleep better. "The ambient noise is so exhausting," she said. Also, tell the flight attendant not to wake you for meals if you really want to sleep. Plus, you should try to stick with a normal eating schedule so you may want to refrain from eating breakfast until you land.
  5. Invest in a good travel pillow: Those neck pillows are for amateurs. For the red-eye you need to invest in a full body pillow that you can really nestle against. You may look ridiculous carrying one, but you will be happy later.
  6. Sleeping pills: Jess only suggests taking these if you are on a flight that is longer than five hours. Flights going from West to East often take less time than expected, so a sleeping pill will leave you groggy when you land. That is not the way you want to go to work on what will be an already very long day.
  7. A shower helps a lot when you land: A shower can make you feel 100% better and makes you feel like you are starting the day. Plus it is something to do besides taking a nap.
  8. Resist taking a nap: Even though it is the thing your body wants to do most, you have to resist taking a nap. Jess said she usually goes to her gym to shower in order to avoid being in her apartment where she could easily find herself sleeping in her bed. You need to get your body back on schedule. If you nap, you may not be able to go to sleep at a reasonable time that night and then you will be groggy all week.
  9. Drink some coffee or Diet Coke after you land: Though it won't save you, drinking coffee after you land may help you make it through the working hours. But the day you fly out you should really try to cut back on the caffeine so you can sleep better on the plane.
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