How to sleep on a plane: 11 tips for a restful flight

Your plane finally decides to show up, you’ve endured the staring contest with check-in and customs, wrestled through the swarms of impatient passengers, and amazingly managed to make it aboard relatively unscathed. Bobbing and weaving you hunt down your seat and slide in, narrowly avoiding that suitcase that seemed destined for your face.

You’re tired, grumpy and facing the prospect of a long 8 hour flight with no shut eye. To add to the fun, little Jimmy’s face appears over the top of the seat in front and decides to meet your aquaintance by blowing raspberries in your direction.

But wait! All is not lost,  we’ve scoured the web from different sources and if you follow some handy tips you may just get some sleep on that airplane after all!


Be Mindful Of Food And Drink Before Flight

That means no Coffee or stimulants such as Energy drinks and no Alcohol (Yes alcohol may knock you out quickly but you’re not getting the kind of quality deep sleep you need by succumbing to this method). The dry atmosphere and recycled air of an aeroplane can leave you thirsty and dry your skin so be sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated, but if you want to sleep don’t overdo it so much that your waking up making a beeline for the toilets. Try around 250ml for every hour that you are awake.

Bring along an empty water bottle to lighten your load and ask an attendant to fill it up for you, they should be happy to oblige.

Ultimately it’s best not to eat a couple of hours before the flight. If you’re hungry try and eat a light meal, a chicken salad or some fresh fruit (which will also keep you hydrated too)

Avoid any food that is too salty and will dehyrate you (I know those Potato Chips can be tempting!)

Get Comfy

Tilt your seat back as far as it will go, just be respectful of the person behind you. This will help ease the pressure on your spine and thus aid a more restful sleep.

Pack A Pillow

Bring a travel pillow, these come in many weird and wonderful forms to suit different types of sleepers. From inflatables and U- shaped memory foam with neck support, to ones where you can bury your face inside (and still breathe!).  You can try turning the U – shaped pillow around so it is under your chin and supporting your head. Experiment and find which airplane pillow works best for you.

Consider the tray table – Whilst this may not work for everyone, (It can cause neck cramps and pain) some people report they have the best sleep using this method. Be sure to clean it first for hygeine, and try putting a pillow, rolled up sweatshirt, jacket or scarf down to sleep on.

Dress Right For Flight

Be sure to wear a few layers and pack some in your hand luggage to account for the changing temperatures on flight; cardigans, vest, sweatshirts etc. You can always peel them off if you get too hot. Try to stick to breathable fabrics like cotton and silk to avoid getting too hot and sticky.

Take a blanket with you in case things get too cold, and to avoid getting woken up by an attendant make sure to put your seat buckle over the top of it. It also provides a sense of comfort and security.

Sock it to ’em with some Compression socks also known as flight socks can help supress ankle swelling and DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Light’s Out

Invest in a good eye mask, cheap is fine but make sure it blocks all the light and is comfortable.

If you can grab a window seat you have control over the window shutter, and it’s also a handy place to rest your head against for some sleep.

Cut Out The Noise

Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones should help cut out that unwanted noise. The ‘Earplanes’ brand of earplugs are relatively cheap and designed by the House Ear Institute and have undergone tests by U.S. Navy pilots. They can help block noise via their four ring design which also helps with discomfort from changes in air pressure.

Turn Off – Tune Out

Blue light for electronic screens intefere with sleep, so turn off those Laptop, Tablets, and Smartphones a couple of hours before flight. You’ll also avoid any calls waking you up in the middle of that nice snooze.

Less sleep for more sleep?

Consider get a few hours less sleep the night before you fly, this should hopefully bring about a natural urge for getting to sleep quickly on the plane.

Fly at night

If possible try and book a flight that coincides with your normal bedtime.

Ready for bed

Convince your brain it’s just another night in bed by sticking to your normal routine as much as possible (Within reason of course!).

Head to the bathroom and brush your teeth. You can even change into your pjyamas if you feel the need!

Getting your mind associated with that night time ritual, should help you nod off comfortably.

Stretch it

Try some stretches, preferably before your flight to loosen those muscles. You can also try it aboard the plane too, just be careful you don’t K.O the people around you (of course you were just helping them with their sleep troubles!)




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