How To Sleep On A Plane

Airplane Taking Off

Sleeping on a plane is hard for many reasons – from a plane seat just not being your bed – to seats being more packed than ever before. Your body isn’t designed for sleeping upright, and on overnight distance flights your sleep cycle fights against you.

Making a few changes in your flying routine can help you sleep better. See how to sleep on a plane here…

Be Seat Savvy

Choose your seat carefully – book a window seat if at all possible as sleep is less likely to be disrupted by people leaving to walk around or go to the toilet. And you’ll have some control over the window shade. Bear in mind that you are often comfortable leaning to the left or the right, so recognising your sleep environment is a great help.

If your seat has a separate headrest cushion it probably is adjustable letting you move it up and down. Bendable side panels can be folded in for greater comfort. First class passengers may have access to seats that have inflating and deflating seat cushions, and sophisticated foams to give seats optimum comfort.

Find a comfortable position – put your seat as far back as possible so that it’s almost flat, which reduces the pressure on your back – it’s polite to check behind first! Remember that some exit row seats don’t recline and some bulkhead seats have non-raiseable arm rests.

Seats in the last row of the plane are often located next to the toilets so you may find issues with unpleasant smells, and additional noise from the engines. Sitting near the front may be quieter but more cramped – if you’re scared of flying this position feels more secure and stable.

Keep your seat belt visible – your flight attendant won’t disturb you if you warp your blanket around you and buckle your seat belt on top.

If you fly regularly perks can include better seating – you’ll be able to get more information regarding picking the best seat possible and the amount of legroom by using your airline’s website.

Woman looking through airplane window

Getting to Sleep Hints

How to fall asleep on a plane can be difficult. Look at some ways to help you get some quality sleep in-flight:

Adjust your sleep schedule during your pre-flight plan – going to bed up to an hour earlier than usual and getting up earlier can help with travel sleep

Avoid screens before sleeping – electronic screens are similar to sunlight and stop you from falling asleep – dim as many blue light sources as possible and consider wearing an eye mask

Forget the alcohol – it only provides non-restorative sleep – drink herbal tea or water to keep hydrated and prevent a headache and thirst

Don’t travel on an empty stomach – this tends to make you more susceptible to motion sickness so try to eat about 45 minutes to an hour before take off

Eat a light meal – foods and snacks that are quite acceptable on a plane include:

  • Healthy grained bread sandwiches
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Salads
  • Celery and carrot sticks

Keep your legs uncrossed – crossing your legs can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of a blood clot – keeping your legs straight with a slight knee bend is the best way to sit

Airplane indoor

Guidelines for Better Plane Sleep

Tips for sleeping on a plane include:

  • Dressing comfortably – wear layers that can be added or taken off as the temperature dictates – don’t wear anything tight that could restrict your circulation
  • Taking your own blanket – your travel blanket will be clean and warm, and if you get too hot you can use it rolled up as a pillow or a back support
  • Bringing a neck pillow – pick one that lets you recreate your sleeping style in the limited space – twisting memory foam options can be positioned to suit your sleeping position
  • Wearing noise cancelling headphones – these block engine noise and other in-flight distractions
  • Keeping hydrated – have plenty to drink before getting on the plane –and keep a bottle handy so you can keep sipping during the flight
  • Listening to apps offering guided meditation – research has shown that this can be an effective way of getting better sleep
  • Supplementing with melatonin – a hormone that helps to regulate your circadian rhythm and helps with sleep issues

Waking Up Advice

Now you know the best way to sleep on a plane it’s good to know just how to wake up! Remember if you sleep on the plane during the daytime you’ll be up during the night. If you pick an evening flight at a time when you’d normally be in bed this will make it easier for you to sleep and wake at the normal time.

Try to make your sleep pattern fit your destination. Change the time on your watch and phone at the start of the flight – by doing this you also set your mind to your destination time and can plan your sleep accordingly.

If the flight is long set your watch or phone for 45 minutes before you land. This gives you time to go to the toilet, get your gear together, and watch the plane land at your destination. On arrival avoid heavy meals – simply stick to the snacks you took with you on the plane.

Try to get into the sunlight as soon as you can as daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating your biological clock.

How to Sleep More

Sleeping on planes is made easier by using one of these products to help you sleep:

  • TouchPoints – a versatile sleep aid that uses gentle, alternating micro-vibrations to calm you and get your brain into sleep mode. Placing the TouchPoints on your ankles and wrists inside the sweatbands 15 minutes before you want to retire will make you feel drowsy, and then encourage you to fall into a peaceful sleep.
  • Headbands that monitor your sleep by measuring your brain activity. Sound stimuli is played through the headband to make falling asleep easier – and enhances a deep sleep. Relaxation techniques are also taught to prepare your brain for sleep, and the headbands are extremely comfortable to wear.

Henry Warren I am a professional writer and health & wellness enthusiast.