There are a couple of big things going against me when it comes getting to sleep on a plane.
Firstly, I have two little kids and I’m sure you can relate to the challenge of traveling with minis who won’t keep still (or quiet), let alone give you time to sleep.
Secondly, I’m an insomniac. Difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep have been challenges I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
But when it comes to falling asleep on a plane, I sometimes find it much easier than being in my own bed! Of course, it’s easier when I’m flying without the family in tow – or when my husband and I can tag team who is staying awake to watch the kids.
That said, there are a few things I proactively do to get to sleep on a flight so that I have a fighting change of feeling refreshed when I get to my destination.
This article on how to sleep on a plane is sponsored by Tempur.
Why does flying make you tired? Sometimes, just the whirring of the plane’s noises can help – like how white noise works for babies.
I sleep pretty well on all forms of transport – maybe I’m the adult equivalent of babies who will only sleep in moving vehicles? Whatever works!
So, these are my tips on the best way to sleep on a plane by setting up the right sleeping environment. I hope they help you next time you travel:
How to Fall Asleep on a Plane more Easily
1. It’s about timing
If it’s possible to do so, timing longer flights later in the day means you can get your usual night’s sleep mid-air and be ready to start the day feeling (semi-)refreshed when you reach your destination.
Alternatively, you could choose to travel during the day time so that you can sleep on an actual bed when you land.
When we’re flying long haul with the kids, I try to have the longest flight at a time when they would naturally be asleep at home. If this works out well, it means they sleep…and so do we!
Of course, the change in time zones can throw a spanner in the works.
2. Get comfortable
As much as I attempt a sneaky upgrade every time I fly, it’s never been granted and it’s been Economy flying all the way for me.
Even with the extra legroom at the bulkhead/bassinet seats, sitting in a cramped space is just not comfortable. Let alone trying to get to sleep.
The most comfortable way to sleep on a plane for me is to be warm (hello itchy plane blankets) and support my neck. Can you take a pillow on an airplane? Yes!
Taking a pillow on a plane (a travel one) from home isn’t going to take up too much room and definitely beats the thin, lack-lustre ones that some airlines provide.
The Tempur travel pillow molds to the shape of your head and shoulders, holding your neck and providing needed support for your muscles. The Tempur material helps to adsorb the jolts and vibrations from travel – to keep your comfortable during the flight.
You can find out more about Tempur’s travel pillow here.
I’ve tried an inflatable travel pillow before and it had no support and I’ve found the best travel neck pillow for long flights particularly are soft and supportive. Plus, using your own personal pillow is so much more familiar and comforting than an airline one.
3. Take Less
Another way to get as comfortable as possible in your seat is to limit the number of things you take on board. Surrounding yourself with bags or having to constantly read the overhead locker doesn’t bode well for how to sleep well on a plane if you’re constantly moving.
However, if you have room in your bag, slot in a sleeping mask to darken your environment when the bright plane lights are on.
4. Be Seat Savvy
If you’re able to, book seats with extra legroom so you can tilt your chair back and stretch out. Having less restrictions like this will help you sleep on a plane much easier.
The seats on bulkhead rows also have extra legroom although in some planes, this means that the tray table is folded into the side of the seat, meaning you can’t put the armrest up in all of them.
I’ve also found that picking the last row on a plane helpful because it stops the risk of having someone behind you kicking or pushing your chair. Kids!
However, when you’re booking your seats, picking seats away from the bulkhead/bassinet rows will lessen your chances of being near a potentially noisy newborn.
5. Create a Buzz
Another of my hacks for how to fall asleep on a plane is to drown out the noise.
The thought of sleeping in a room with hundreds of other people is just weird, right? But we all try to do it on long haul flights.
Take earphones so that as well as watching movies, you can listen to white noise or a meditation app to lull you to sleep and block out everyone else.
If you would rather not listen to anything but still block out the noise, invest in a good pair of earplugs that block out the sound but stay in comfortably.
6. Turn up the temp
Whilst you don’t want to overheat, remember that the temperature on planes can sometimes drop hugely when the air con kicks in.
Rather than rely on the aforementioned itchy blanket to keep you warm, take a light jumper or jacket you can pop on or remove to stay comfortable.
7. Don’t be disturbed
If possible, choose a window seat so you don’t have to keep waking up and moving for fellow passengers.
I also like to keep my seatbelt fastened and visible so if there’s turbulence, the Flight Attendant doesn’t have to wake me up.
8. Don’t force it
I find that when I am really trying to get to sleep, it rarely happens. If after setting up a sleep environment that will encourage sleep doesn’t work, then do something else.
Read a book or listen to some calming music to see if that helps you relax a bit more.
I would like to add that not sleeping near crying babies or kicking kids is a sure-fire way how to sleep on a fight better but 1) that’s out of your control and 2) they’re probably your child! Just me?
Summary of how to Sleep on a Plane
Planning ahead, picking the right seats and taking some in-flight essentials will all help you with how to sleep comfortably on a plane.
If you have the tools to create a calm and comfortable sleeping environment, you’ll be more confident in getting to sleep and more likely to stay asleep for longer.
Do you have any tips on how to fall asleep on an airplane?
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Disclosure: these tips on how to sleep on a plane are my own and the article is sponsored by Tempur.