Is Taking Sleeping Pills On Planes Dangerous?

a woman sleeping in an airplane

I sometimes pose this question when chatting with fellow travelers: any potential health issues aside, is taking sleeping pills on your flight putting you at risk?

I get the appeal, especially if you’re on an overnight flight in coach. Hours of sleep will make the flight pass more quickly and you can arrive at your destination rested and ready to hit the ground running.

But as a female who often travels solo, the thought of voluntarily knocking myself out for much of the flight scares me. I’d like to believe the best of my fellow passengers, but I don’t trust anyone I don’t know.

And it doesn’t seem like I should – numerous accounts of passengers being assaulted, masturbated on or next to, even rubbed with lotion while they were sleeping have made the news. And even if your person is safe, you have to worry about thieves going through your carry on luggage directly overhead if you’re not alert at all times.

It’s not that I won’t sleep on a flight, I just try not to take anything that would make me more oblivious than I usually am.

Just a few days ago a man was charged with sexually assaulting a woman on a flight while he was sitting between the passenger and his wife. I’m not sure how/if his wife missed what was going on, but the man claims he was under the influence of sleeping pills. If that’s true, it raises another issue — by taking sleeping pills are you at risk of unknowingly assaulting your seatmate?

This isn’t a topic I see addressed very often in travel articles or forums and am interested to know what others think.

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  1. I took a sleeping pill before an overnight flight last Friday….. then the flight got cancelled. So I wasn’t thinking very clearly to say the least trying to get to a hotel. But it worked out.

  2. I took sleeping pills a few time and became an accidental drug addict. Took me almost 2 years to recover from an Ambien addiction. Started out as an easy way for pilots to get sleep on a short layover and then we all get stuck on them for sleep. Not easy coming off these and would recommend anyone to play around with z drugs. Unfortunately when you work crazy schedules many resort to these or some other type of poison

  3. i’d hate to be drugged out if there was an emergency — i’d rather have an uncomfortable night but be alert if anything unprecedented happens

  4. I am a chronic insomniac, sleeping pills do not have tremendous effect on me, and I am largely alert as I sleep. They are a godsend on a flight to another time zone as I tend to not lose a day for catchup sleep. I always keep my valuables at my feet anyway.

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