No one really enjoys sleeping on a plane, unless of course you have the money for business or first class. Even then you are essentially stuck on a claustrophobic seat for potentially hours, with only the occasional in-flight entertainment (if you didn’t bring a book or your tablet) and the cry of a baby right behind you for the company. So sleeping ends up being the ultimate way to pass your time on a plane. How to sleep on a plane? Other than getting over the anxiety that you are a thousand miles above ground strapped on a seat, there are plenty of ways to get yourself snoring right through your flight.
How to Sleep on a Plane: 10 Most Practical & Essential Tips to Give You a Best Sleep
Prepare the right itinerary
Find a flight that will give you the maximum amount of a nonstop flight. Overnight flight is the best choice since you will feel sleepy and the ticket is generally cheaper. If transits are inevitable, find flights that go on the longer single leg. This way you have more uninterrupted nap time. Unless you are going to work on your flight, then always go for the late departures.
You can always rely on sleeping pills, but do consult your GP before getting any kind of medication to get you sleeping. Staying hydrated is important, so make sure to have a bottle of water ready. On the same note, avoid alcohol since the drier air will dehydrate you. You should be hydrated through your flight but don’t drink or eat too much to avoid restroom breaks, although go up to the restrooms every now and then to get the blood in your leg circulating.
Be aware that you can almost never expect quality sleep on the plane. Take this opportunity to adjust to the new time zone you are heading. Wake yourself up an hour earlier or later depending on the time zone you are heading to help deal with the jet lag.
Assuming that you are most likely reading this because you are stuck on the economy class and can’t afford the lie-flat seat in first class. Those padded upright seats with minimal recline ability are probably the least comfortable place to try to sleep on. The second best thing you can get is either the window or aisle seat. This is essential that window side wall is pretty comfortable to lean on (and less interruption from your neighbors trying to leave their seat). Then determine if you usually sleep towards the left or right of the bed. Book for a seat on the left side if you sleep on the left side at home, vice versa. This should help you get to sleep easier.
What you must try to avoid is the seats in the bulkhead or the exit rows. Those seats feature bigger leg space but at the cost of a reclining and sometimes raisable armrests. Moreover, they are higher in demand and more expensive to book, so some passengers like to pass that space in the bulkhead seat to get to the other side too. Seats in the last row? They are closer to the lavatories and come with a seat that deosn’t usually recline. If the bathroom stench gets you to sleep better, however, then go for it.
Bring earplugs, sleep mask and a neck pillow
For how to sleep on a plane, never forget to bring sleep sets for sleeping on the plane. Earplugs minimize noise annoyance from your neighbors and the sleep mask blocks out excess lights. The neck pillow is essential for neck support and keeps you generally undisturbed by random turbulence that might jolt you awake. You can plug your headphones into some music if that helps you to focus on sleeping.
There’s no reason to wear a dress like you are going to explore the north pole on a plane. Cabin temperature often goes warm, even too warm. All you would usually need is a jacket, casual clothing paired with long pants and covered shoes that you can slip on and off easily. Remember, you can only take off so many clothes when facing the heat, but wearing too many clothes will only leave you miserable.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Alcohol and anything that contains caffeine such as soda, green/black tea and coffee will keep you awake for your flight and you will find difficulty resting. Resist the quick coffee before boarding and maybe only grab one on the flight. Stick to hot decaffeinated tea if you can since it is usually tamer in caffeine and helps you to go to sleep.
Remove all distractions
The in-flight movie might relax you enough to get you to sleep, but probably you will drift slowly into a consciously sluggish coma. Bright lights from your electronic entertainment send signals to your brain and keep it awake. If you do need to watch a movie or have some entertainment, pick something dull, like a romantic movie or some slow music to distract you to snoring in no time. Noise cancelling earphones are always handy and can serve as a polite decline to interacting with your talkative neighbor.
Flight staff cooperation
While the plane is on taxi, you can politely request the flight attendant to not disturb on the flight. This means they will avoid waking you up when the cart run is on and ignore you on the emergency briefing. There is always a protocol to not disturb sleeping passengers (they will appreciate it too, one less passenger to deal with), but a gentle reminder never hurt.
You might think you won’t have the room, but the following exercise can be done right on your seat. We are going to focus on deep muscle exercises that stretch and flex the muscles, clenching muscles and releasing them gently. Begin at your toes muscles, gradually going up the body and enjoy your relaxation at the end.
Focusing on your breathing can help to distract your mind to lull itself to sleep. Maintain a steady inhale, exhale, holding each for around 5 to 10 seconds. You can also give the 4-7-8 technique a go: inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale through the mouth for 8. Simply repeat it till you fall asleep.
Avoid stressing over failing to sleep
Never stress over the fact that you can’t fall asleep. Travelling is stressful and exciting in the first place, you can’t really expect to relax in that situation easily. Accept that you are going to face that now, but it’s only short-term, maybe for the first few hours till you get tired enough. You can always sleep on the nice comfy bed at your destination later on. It won’t ruin your trip.
Ignore other passengers that seem to fall asleep so quickly and soundly, as they might just be struggling like you.
Sleeping at your destination time zone is probably the best way to get over jet lag anyway. You only need to sleep on a plane if you are indeed tired, have nothing better to do or have a full day activity that you need to do immediately on arrival.
If so, then stick to counting sheep and see how far you will count up.