Surviving a Red Eye

It’s been a fantastic ten days here in Kona, and it’s time to say Aloha until the next time.

While it’s always nice to have one last day to soak up the sun and the warm, welcoming culture, opting for a red-eye to get home can be less than fun, to say the least.

Flying in and of itself can take a toll on the body but add to that the potential for a night of little to no restful sleep and you can find yourself arriving back at home feeling tired, irritable and with even more longing for just one more day of vacation.

Traveling in business or first can help, for sure; the ability to fully recline and get an actual sleep makes a world of difference, but in addition to budget concerns, you can find yourself in an older plane with seats that don’t lie back and end up in the same boat as if you’d purchased economy anyway.

Is there any way to avoid that horrible combination of flight legs, sleep deprivation and feeling downright awful, when the whole purpose of the trip was to come back refreshed and rejuvenated?


Below are my top ten suggestions I’ve compiled through trial and error, recommendations from clients and friends and homeopathic remedy I only just found out about that worked wonders for me on a recent trip last summer to Europe.

  • Avoid Alcohol You’ve heard it before, and you’ll read it again; despite the idea that two glasses of wine will ‘relax you into a restful sleep’, remember, there’s a different between falling asleep and passing out. Plus, it’s hard enough to stay hydrated simply because you’re in a low pressure, climate controlled environment without adding the diuretic effects of alcohol. If you must have a drink try to so with your dinner, eaten on the ground before boarding your flight. From Eric Rimm, an associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health: “Since there’s less water in your blood when you’re dehydrated, the concentration of alcohol will be slightly higher, leading to quicker intoxication and increased potential for a hangover”[1].
  • Avoid Sugar Yes, there’s sugar everywhere; it’s the easiest thing to find both at the airport as well as on the flight and on any given flight it’s easy to spot passengers chomping away on snack after snack for no other reason than they’re bored and there’s nothing else to do but eat.   Addressing the underlying issue of eating when one is bored, or for any other reason than because they’re hungry is a topic we can save for another post; for now, let’s just focus on why not to eat when you’re bored on the plane. Normally it’s light that triggers an internal clock that controls when we eat and sleep, but according to a study, a second clock seems to override the first when the body senses that food is in short supply. So researchers believe we might be able to faster adjust to time zone changes by manipulating this second clock, based on hunger. In essence, if you make your body think it’s starving, you’ll be able to remain awake and alert until it’s dinner time in your new destination, resetting your body’s light clock in the process and avoiding jet lag[2].
  • Avoid Salt Don’t make the mistake of thinking that snacking on that package of low-calorie pretzels is any better than tearing open a package of gummy candy that you picked up at the magazine shop. Amongst its many negative side effects, excess salt can cause fluid retention, the last thing you need when your circulation is already compromised simply due to disproportionate sitting!
  • Try Fasting during the day before your red eye. In a study published in the journal Science in 2008 and discussed in a New York Times article researchers suggested that fasting for about 16 hours before a long flight may actually help to fend off jet lag[3].
  • Hydrate well
  • Bring along a fat snack If you must snack, a small packet of coconut oil or a handful of nuts can help keep you in fat-burning mode, rather than spiking your blood sugar if you were to eat that awful candy!
  • Use White Noise Choose from any of the popular white noise apps that at the very least can lull you into relaxation, even if you don’t fall asleep. White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside your sleep environment[4].
  • Use an Eye Mask Blocking out light, in addition to the sound you’ll avoid hearing while you’ve got your Tesla App playing in your ear buds will help better your odds. People have used chamomile tea for sleep for thousands of years. Studies seem to back up its calming effect[5].
  • Check out No Jet Lag This unique homeopathic remedy helps ensure holiday enjoyment and working efficiency even after long airline flights. No-Jet-Lag is raved about by satisfied travelers globally, including business executives, sports teams, tour operators, and flight crews. It is safe, easy to take, and proven effective in tests. I can vouch for its effectiveness myself. I flew to Venice from LA in the summer and had zero jet lag!

 You may not be able to completely offset all the side effects of a red eye, but the tips listed above can at least help you maximize the best outcome while minimizing potential downfalls of a completely sleepless night. Be sure to catch up properly your first evening back in your own bed!


[1] “Five Foods to Avoid Before Flying.” The Independent Traveler, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015

[2] Dr. Clifford Saper, Harvard Medical School

[3] “Coffee and Naps Not Helping Your Jet Lag? Try Starving Instead.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2008. Web

[4] Listen. Are Noises Keeping You Awake?” : Sound & Sleep. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015

[5] “Sleep Supplements: Melatonin, Valerian, Kava, L-tryptophan, Chamomile.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015