Snnnkrrrkk.....[drip, drip, drip]
June 10, 2007 7:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm flying trans-Atlantic in less than a month, and I've got questions about how to control snoring and other potential highly-embarrassing actions that I take in my sleep. What can I do?

While driving on an extended drive today, I was going down a mental checklist of things that I needed to do to make sure I can sleep on my first flight to Ireland, via London, in a little over three weeks.

It then occurred to me that, should I actually be able to get to sleep (I have a slight fear of flying) via purposeful sleep-deprivation and/or drugs, I have quite a few...embarrassing...things I do in my sleep.

First, I talk. Loudly. Secondly, I snore - also loudly. Lastly, I drool...sometimes excessively.

I'm not so embarrassed to talk about these things here, as I imagine that many share these problems, and I also realize that there are worse afflictions I could suffer from (night terrors, sleep walking, etc.). However, these are not just things that might be embarrassing to me, but also very distracting and/or highly annoying to other passengers; that is the most potentially embarrassing part of this whole problem.

Not sleeping...may be an option, but it looks grim. While its highly likely that I would be able to stay awake on the plane, I have a seriously intense day after we land. I land in Heathrow at 8:30AM GMT, and have to somehow get to Gatwick for my 4:30PM flight to Cork, IE. I have never traveled in Europe, ever. I've never been outside of the US & Canada. I'm not going to be able to sleepwalk this like a pro - the newness of everything is going to require me to have my wits about me, something that isn't usually the case if I'm sleep deprived. I do usually have a kick of adrenaline that will push me in seriously new and exciting situations, but I'd rather not rely on it in case I'm the walking dead.

So...dear MeFites, can you either tell me how to curb these activities, or successfully get myself to London with energy to spare? My flight is on a Saturday, and I've got about three days prior to my departure at my disposal to alter sleep schedules or try any ideas. Thanks in advance.
posted by plaidrabbit to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may not talk in your sleep if you drug yourself up (mm, the sweet, 9-hour slumber of Benadryl,) and the mostly-upright position may affect the other two, as well. Benadryl will also dry up your head in general. You might be able to test this at home, with either a reliable partner or a (sound-activated) recorder.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:52 PM on June 10, 2007

It may be the case that sleeping sitting partially upright (as you will be doing if you're flying coach) will take care of some of this by itself. I mean, I can stop my boyfriend snoring by poking him so he switches positions. Being in a weird position might do the trick for you.

If you're really worried about it I think probably the only thing you can do is warn the person next to you and tell them to give you a nudge if you're disturbing them. Ultimately they all know they're taking a flight where a lot of people will be trying to sleep and it'd be pretty lame to hold it against you.

It might be a kind gesture to buy enough earplugs to hand out to the people around you? Although if somebody gave me a pair of earplugs when I got on the plane I have to confess I'd think he was a real character.
posted by crinklebat at 7:53 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

MetaAnswer: It sounds like you're generally anxious about a new experience, which is understandable, so you're trying to think out and solve every potential problem ahead of time. I don't think that's healthy, since you get fixated on the negatives in what should be an enjoyable experience. At the moment, you're worried about the sleeping. Once that's sorted, you'll worry about buying train tickets to Gatwick. It's never-ending. Just do it, and let the chips fall how they may, and you'll end up in Ireland.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 PM on June 10, 2007

do not let this stop you from sleeping. the white noise on an airplane will drown out most noises. warn the person next to you about your snoring and talking in your sleep then forget about it. you're not the only person in the world that snores or talks in their sleep. also the National Express runs buses from between the airports every fiteen minutes for 19 pounds (
posted by 5bux at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2007

Simply Sleep or Tylenol PM, or similar antihistamine type sleep aids will help you get to sleep.

You probably won't snore as you probably won't be lying down. You will be essentially sitting up, unless you have a very pricey ticket.
posted by caddis at 8:08 PM on June 10, 2007

Three simple steps:

(Step 1) [If your airline allows this]. Check in for your flight online exactly 24 hours ahead of time and carefully choose your seat. Try to get an aisle or window with the seat next to you unoccupied. Best case scenario: you won't even have a neighbor on your flight.

(Step 2) Talk to your seatmate(s). Seriously. Say something like: "This may sound a bit strange, but this is my first transatlantic flight, and I'm a bit nervous. I may talk or snore loudly in my sleep - please don't hesitate to nudge me if I am bothering you. I won't take it personally!" This will make it easier on you and your seatmates.

(Step 3) Relax. Really! Bring whatever will make you feel comfortable and relatively secure - good book; mp3 player; blindfold abnd earplugs; security blanket; whatever. Watch the movie. If you want a drink, have one - but try to avoid getting dehydrated, which is absolutely the worst thing to do (and its very easy to do) when you fly. Drink plenty of fluids before you board the plane.

Flying economy class overnight is a remarkably strange, intimate experience. I can assure you that your seatmates will either (a) be just as weirded out and nervous about the experience as you or (b) simply tune out their surroundings completely. At the risk of belittling your nervousness, let me just say: its just not that big a deal. A bit of drooling and snoring is absolutely par for the course.
posted by googly at 8:59 PM on June 10, 2007

Take a pillow and hug it, so that it's jammed up under your chin. Being upright will make this feel comfortable in any case.
posted by anaelith at 9:12 PM on June 10, 2007

I suffer from sleep apnea and use a c-pap machine to sleep at night. I was very nervous about sleeping on the plane without my machine.

I warned my seatmate that I snore very loudly (I am a petite woman). I asked her to give me a poke if I was snoring too loudly or bothering her. Four hours later, when I awoke, she said I hadn't made a peep! I think it is the sitting up position that helped.

I have seen people sleeping on a plane with their mouth hanging open, drool everywhere. The only thing I thought of them was how lucky they were to be able to sleep so soundly.

Don't worry about it and have a great trip.
posted by JujuB at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2007

I don't care if you shout bawdy limericks in your sleep -- if you can get a good night sleep in economy, more power to you. If you are really counting on being well-rested the next day, test some sleep aids ahead of time (some people have contrary reactions to them, like me).
posted by Rock Steady at 9:41 PM on June 10, 2007

Strongly seconding googly! Dont worry so much about it!

I fly long overnight flights all the time (in fact I just flew overnight Philadelphia to Lisbon yesterday!)

As others have said, flying is a strangely intimate experience. No matter how loud you talk you'll be drowned out by:

1) The huge Engine noise of the plane itself
2) Crying babies
3) Other snorers

I've seen plenty of people drool. Other people have a tendency to fall sideways and almost end up with their head on a stranger's shoulder.There are snorers, talkers, coughers, cryers (ok only babies), the person sneezing every few minutes, the insomniacs muttering to themselves, etc. And of course the occasional turbulence tossing everyone in the air like salad.

It's all part of the human experience.
posted by vacapinta at 9:41 PM on June 10, 2007

If you want to go straight from Heathrow to Gatwick, you can head to National Express' website, click on the "airports" tab on the little booking engine on the left, and you'll be all set - they'll e-mail you an e-ticket you can print out and then head to the bus depot at Heathrow, which is pretty well signed. You might want to pad your time a little; if you land at Heathrow at 8:30, you might want to hold off on getting the bus until, say 10:00 or so, so you have time to get through immigration and customs. The bus ride should take an hour or so.

You do have a lot of time, though, so depending on how much baggage you have, perhaps you can head into the city for a while. There are lots of quick-trip-to-London guidebooks, so no need to weigh yourself down that much.
posted by mdonley at 10:26 PM on June 10, 2007

I bought a pack of Breath Right strips and found they work very well (my fiance says they work!) especially after drinks which is when my snoring is usually the worst.
posted by jeffmik at 10:36 PM on June 10, 2007

I sometimes wear a big hoodie on the plane. I'm able to pull the hood down over my face, which both blocks the light and muffles any noises I might make while sleeping.

I find it's easier to sleep in a window seat.
posted by trixie_bee at 12:45 AM on June 11, 2007

Oh, and an antihistamine plus alcohol will really put you out. Clarytin + 2 beers would have me asleep at my desk back when I needed it to breathe. You may be slightly groggy the next day.

Don't sweat the sleeping, snoring, talking and drooling. Casually mention it to the person next to you--if they've flown, they know all about it. Alternately, don't sweat not-sleeping. If you can remember how to say "where do I get a coach/bus to Gatwick" at Heathrow and can read signs for Taxis in Cork, you can sleepwalk it.

If you're thinking of going into London, well....disembarking and immigration and baggage claim will take till 10 or so, it's 45 minutes just to get into central London...checking in at Gatwick around 3 means getting on a train to Gatwick from Victoria station at 2:30pm so you've 3.5 hours there for fun, minus half an hour to get lost.
posted by Martin E. at 4:29 AM on June 11, 2007

Tape your mouth shut. Seriously. Use medical tape across your lips and breathe through your nose. This will fix the talking and the drooling, and probably muffle your snoring.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:32 AM on June 11, 2007

The chances are very slim that you will ever see the people on the plane again. Even if you do "embarrass yourself" (and most people don't pay that much attention to others), you will never have to face these people again. Therefore, who cares what they think? Out of politeness, warn the person next to you that you snore/talk, and ask them to nudge you if it irritates them. Then just relax.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on June 11, 2007

yup, tell the person next to you...but also hand them some super-duper earplugs (not the kind you get at the drugstore). You have to buy a lifetime's supply, but its worth it for travelling and they make great gifts (even for strangers).

Also, don't mess around with over the counter sleeping aids, get the real deal. There are so many nowadays. I like Ambien, but some ppl don't. It usually gives me a solid 7hrs of sleep on long flights and I wake up feeling refreshed. (I am a good sleeper though). An eyemask is a big help too!
posted by hazel at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2007

BigLankyBastard: Tape your mouth shut.

Holy crap, BLB. If some dude next to me on the plane calmly slapped a strip of tape over his mouth before going to sleep I would freak the fuck out. Even if he explained what he was doing and why I'd still have one finger on the Call Attendant button all night.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:39 PM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

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