How to Get Better Sleep on an Airplane

How to Get Better Sleep on an Airplane

Think restful and comfortable sleep during a flight is impossible?  Unless you’re able to sit in first class with a fully reclining seat, it can be difficult.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep on a plane and wake up feeling refreshed by the time you land.  Try these tips to help you get to sleep (and stay asleep!) no matter where you sit during your next flight.

Prepare before boarding.  Have a light meal a few hours before departure, which will prevent you from feeling either too hungry or too full. Make sure you’ve been hydrating throughout the day and avoid the temptation to look at your phone or tablet at least one hour before boarding.  As much as possible, try to recreate your regular routine at home to get your mind and body prepared for sleep.

Bring the right gear.  Don’t hesitate to pack anything you think will help make you more comfortable during your flight.  Neck pillows, blankets and eye masks are all great for keeping your personal space dark, warm and cozy.  They can be expensive, but noise-canceling headphones are a great investment that will block out the unavoidable sounds around you.

Choose your seat wisely.  Unless you’re able to secure a whole row for yourself, you’ll want to avoid the back of the aircraft.  This area tends to be noisy, not only from the engines but also the sounds of the lavatory and the crew.  It’s also best to find a window seat since you’ll be able to lean against the bulkhead and control your row’s window shade.

Communicate with the crew and other passengers.  Many of us are shy in these kinds of public situations but expressing your wants and needs can go a long way. Before settling on a seat, ask those around you if they are willing to turn off their reading light and keep the volume down on their headphones.  Politely let your neighbors know if they’re intruding on your personal space and don’t be afraid to move seats if needed.  Inform the flight crew that you intend to sleep so they’ll know your seat belt is fastened and won’t disturb you during the beverage service.

Wait until the plane has quieted down.  If you try to fall asleep while everyone is still getting settled, you’re likely to start feeling agitated and restless.  Use this first phase of the flight to quiet your mind by reading, listening to music or meditating.  Then, after the plane around you is calm and quiet, you’ll be ready to drift off to sleep.

Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold writes about health, wellness and travel.  For more tips and information, check out all of his posts at