Last Updated on January 10, 2020
For some people, falling asleep during a plane journey might seem an impossible task. We understand that perfectly: there is constant rattling coming from the airplane, the flight can be extremely bumpy due to turbulence and adverse atmospheric conditions, and the seats are not the most comfortable thing to sleep on (you can’t even stretch your legs or get proper support to rest your head).
Staying awake during an entire long-haul flight can be exasperating. Between one or two small walks along the narrow corridor to restore circulation, a trip to the bathroom, and playing a few Candy Crush levels before you run out of lives, you might find yourself with nothing to do for hours.
However, when you have to travel by plane dozens of times a year, you might realize that there are a few things you can do to comfortably sleep on a plane – even if it is only during a small part of the trip. We have gathered7tips for sleeping on a plane from frequent flyers that will surely help you the next time you catch a flight.
#1 – Don’t Drink Caffeine Nor Alcohol
It is very tempting to sit down at an airport coffee shop while waiting to board a flight. But if you plan on sleeping during your flight, you might want to skip this caffeine intake – especially if you are particularly sensitive to this stimulant.
The same principle can be applied to alcohol. Some people like to consume alcohol on planes but, it will definitely make it a lot harder to sleep for a considerable number of hours, even if drinking usually makes you very sleepy. Drinking will dehydrate your body and have you constantly visiting the bathroom.
Additional tip: be careful with what you eat before entering the airplane. Opt for a light meal to prevent feeling bloated during the flight.
#2 – Travel sleeping kit
Buying your own airplane sleeping kit and bringing it every time you board on a plane is the best way to ensure you have the comfort needed to fall asleep peacefully, and that you won’t wake up with excruciating back and neck pain.
Any good sleeping kit includes a travel blanket (that can double as a footrest or offer extra lumbar support), a neck pillow, and a sleep mask. A good neck pillow with memory foam is the most important item because it can be shaped to accommodate your neck perfectly in whichever position you want.
The sleep mask is a must for those who can’t sleep unless it’s pitch-black. You will look funny … but who cares.
#3 – Buy noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones are a must-have for every frequent traveler. Period. They are the only way to muffle all the annoying different noises in a flight so nothing: the rattling, babies crying, people talking, flight attendants going back and forth with catering, etc.
Put on your headphones, choose a relaxing playlist and sleep peacefully knowing that no noise will disturb you.
This type of headphones reduces constant ambient sound using ANC (active noise control). ANC functions by incorporating a microphone that captures and measures ambient sound, generating a waveform that is the exact negative of the captured sound, thus eliminating it. This happens in real-time.
The waveform is then mixed with the audio signal from the media player (such as a smartphone, for example) to allow the consumer to listen to his music without any interference from the background.
At the moment, the most recommended noise-canceling headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM3 (250$) and the Bose 700 (399$). Yes, they are really expensive.
But this is an investment that makes perfect sense if you are a frequent traveler or if you struggle to sleep because of all the noise around during a flight. In any case, there are cheaper options available on the market.
#4 – Choose the best seat possible
It is no secret that the best seats to sleep in are those located by the window since they allow you for better head support and the people next to you won’t have to wake you up every time they need to go to the bathroom. During the ticket purchase process or at the online check-in remember to book a window seat.
If you can afford it, an upgrade to business class will give you much more legroom and provide you larger and much comfy seats (not to mention the fine dining and other amenities).
Some airline companies include all the items you need for a good night’s sleep: pillow, blanket, socks, and even noise-canceling headphones. It is definitely worth it if you want to sleep until the flight lands.
#5 – Find a comfortable position
When you are flying in economy class finding a comfortable position is not an easy thing to do. Your best option is to recline the seat as far back as possible so that you can rest in a flat position that doesn’t put a lot of stress on your back. Don’t forget to be gentle and ask whoever is behind you if the reclined seat bothers them.
#6 – Choose the right outfit
Remember, it is just a flight. There is no need to dress up. Choose a comfortable outfit with layers so that you won’t get either too or hot or too cold, and avoid tight pants so as not to interfere with blood circulation. Sweatpants are a safe choice and are essential in long-haul flights.
#7 – Mimic your bedtime routine
If you are catching an overnight flight, you can trick your mind to fall asleep more easily by mimicking your bedtime routine.
Go to the plane’s bathroom to follow your regular hygiene habit and afterward do as you would do if you were at home: read a book, listen to music, watch a small episode of your favorite TV series (don’t forget to download it beforehand), meditate… it’s really up to you.