I've been asked a million times, "how can you sleep on airplanes?" Well the answer is: when you fly international long haul flights you have no choice. Really it's a must, in order to adjust and survive better; you have to get some sleep at times on long flights. For some people it is no different than trying to get to sleep in their own bed. It may be reading or even a sleep aid that does the trick. I'm fortunate.... that generally I can sleep on a flight without much problem.
On flights where I want to sleep (see part 1), I will start by reading a bit before the first meal service, then eat and possibly watch a movie, then I'll settle in, lean my seat back, put on my eye covers, put on my noise cancelling headphones with the volume turned way down and next thing I know, its 5 or 6 hours later. By this time there is only 3 or 4 hours left in the flight, so then I'll read, do some work on the laptop, watch another movie, eat breakfast (2nd meal service) and what do you know.... we're starting to descend! Occasionally I may have trouble getting to sleep if it is the middle of the day for my body-clock. So in this case I will take asleep aid. The over the counter varieties work fine for me. I have tried melatonin (natural sleep aide) which works pretty well but my most trusted sleep friend is just good old Benadryl. The same active ingredient in all of the over the counter more expensive sleep aids, is the same active ingredient in Benadryl. Even the generic Target brand knockoff... Benadryl, works fine for me.
The last but very important point for surviving long flights is that you have to get up and move around at least 3 or 4 times during the flight. There are even good techniques for doing stretching exercises in your seat. These things will help to avoid stiffness (especially if you are a Boston Red Socks pitcher) and the more serious concern of deep vain thrombosis DVT, which can be fatal.
There you go, sweet dreams on those long haul flights.