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Everyone loathes a red-eye. A necessary evil on nearly every cross-ocean, and oftentimes cross-country traverse, red-eyes are those pesky flights that depart late in the evening, fly during the pre-dawn hours and have become a regular addition to nearly every airline’s schedule. In the early days, airports were not adequately equipped to accommodate these flights, from limited airport staff to a lack of runway lighting to restrictions on noise, but with the increasing need to shuttle aircraft to their next route, seats were made available at deeply discounted rates for passengers willing to make the inconvenient trek.

While they are no longer consistently cheaper than any other departure time, red-eye flights typically travel east, allowing business travellers to travel overnight, arrive in an earlier timezone in the morning and not lose a full day of business activity. The irony of course is at the heart of the red-eye, a slang term used to describe the fatigued eyes often plaguing overnight flyers. With most red-eyes lasting only four or six hours – well under the recommended seven to eight – many are unable to get the appropriate amount of sleep before arriving at their destination.

So what can you do to get more rest on a red-eye?

Avoid alcohol prior to the flight
A recommendation for nearly any flight, alcohol increases your body temperature, brings on dehydration and wreaks havoc on your ability to get a little shut eye. Stick with water and grab a bottle in the terminal before your flight.

Request a window seat
Tucked out of the way when passengers are making a move to the bathroom or while attendants flit about in the aisles, a window seat offers your best chance for rest during a red-eye. Children and families are generally seated at the back of the plane, so if you are serious about sleeping, request a seat towards the front.

Never leave home without a sleep mask and a set of earplugs
Whether sleeping through unexpected hotel renovations or drowning out the sound of your snoring seatmate, earplugs and a sleep mask  are your best bet to getting a good night’s sleep while travelling. The mask makes it easy to block out sunlight, while earplugs do the same for any unwanted noise.

Pack a pair of socks
It is amazing how much of a difference removing your shoes can make during a flight – but no one appreciates the scent your weary feet. Pack an extra pair of socks in your carry on to relax and keep warm during your overnight flight.

Stick to your usual routine
Some folks indulge in a little late night snack or glass of warm milk. Others have to get in a few pages of the latest sci-fi thriller before they can close their eyes. Whatever your usual pre-bedtime routine, adhere to it, and your usual bedtime, as much as possible. In addition to the pillows and blankets generally provided by the airline, red-eye flight attendants are often sympathetic to passengers travelling through the night, so if a second pillow or glass of water will make the journey that much easier, be sure to ask.

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