Let’s be honest: not all of us have the luxury of flying first class, so the flying experience can sometimes get uncomfortable — especially if you’re on an overnight flight. From a seatmate who refuses to turn off the overhead light to the bright glare of copious TV screens to unpleasant smells trickling out of the alleyways and restrooms, it can seem impossible to get a little shuteye during your flight. While a coach seat will never compare to the luxury recliners in first, there are some airplane hacks for sleeping that can make it more comfortable to get a little shuteye while you’re up in the air.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
If upgrading to first or business class isn’t an option, choose your main cabin seat in advance — even if you have to pay a little extra. Perhaps you prefer a window seat, so you have something to lean your head against while snoozing. It’s best to avoid seats near the galley or restrooms because they have a lot of foot traffic and unpleasant orders. Emergency exit seats tend to be roomier, but you have to be comfortable executing the safety protocol if need be. Strategically choosing your seat is one of the top tips for beginner travelers.
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
It’s a good idea to adjust your sleep schedule a few days before your flight if you’re going to be crossing multiple time zones. If possible, try to choose an overnight flight that fits best with your usual bedtime. So, if you go to bed around 10 p.m., try booking a flight slightly early to give you enough time to eat something before the cabin lights are dimmed.
Fly Direct When Possible
To maximize your time sleeping on a plane, choose direct flights whenever possible. This way, you won’t have to worry about getting broken sleep due to one or more layovers. Multiple changes add stress, too, which can make it even more challenging to fall asleep.
Dress for Success
While the days of dressing during the Golden Age of travel are long gone, that doesn’t mean you have to strictly choose comfort over style. There can be temperature fluctuations during your flight, so it’s best to dress in layers. Opt for versatile pieces that can be reused throughout your trip — for example, choose a soft-well-made t-shirt, a neutral jacket (or cardigan) that’s warm enough, flattering yet non-restrictive pants, and comfortable yet stylish shoes. Spruce things up with a scarf or another signature accessory.
Avoid stimulants such as coffee, black tea, and alcohol before and during your flight. Stick with water and consult a doctor if you’re thinking of taking any sleeping supplements. Continue to hydrate throughout the flight.
You know that feeling when you eat too much and then you want to stretch out on the couch afterward? Well, you’re not going to have that option when you’re sitting upright in a seated position. Eat enough so that you don’t have a grumbling tummy for eight-plus hours, but don’t stuff yourself to avoid an unpleasant flight that will keep you up the entire time.
Invest in the Right In-Flight Accessories
Packing your personal item with the right in-flight gear can significantly enhance your travel experience and make it easier to fall asleep. For example:
- A quality eye mask that completely blocks out any light.
- Noise-canceling headphones to drown out chatty seatmates, crying babies, and general airplane noises.
- A comfortable neck pillow.
- A light blanket or wrap.
- A relaxing aromatherapy blend in a rollerball bottle to enhance sleep and block out unpleasant odors.
- A pair of comfortable slippers or warm socks.
Try to Relax
While it’s easier said than done, being in a relaxed state is vital for sleeping on an airplane. Consider downloading guided meditation and breathing sessions and relaxing music on your tablet or computer. Wind down by reading a book, but avoid any electronics (including the airplane TV) as the glare can be too stimulating, which can keep you up even longer.
Now that you know how to sleep on a plane, it’s time to choose the correct personal item for packing all of your in-flight accessories, snacks, electronics, reading material, and anything else you need to enhance your flight. To help you choose, check out our selection of Totes and Crossbody Bags and Travel Backpacks. After that, bon voyage and sweet dreams!