Travel Tips: 5 Secrets to Sleeping on a Plane

At the airport, before a flight. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flickr)
At the airport, before a flight. Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y (flickr)
Some sleep while some can't. Photo by zanthrax-dot-nl (flickr)
Some sleep while some can't. Photo by zanthrax-dot-nl (flickr)

Sleeping travel tips

Most of us have been on a plane flight at some stage of our lives. And I’ll bet that you have also had the delightful experiences that I have. The little cherub in the seat behind you with a toy that goes on and on and on. The old man snoring in your ear while the sunlight pours through the window. The air hostess coughing loudly to get your attention to see if you want some peanuts, just as you were about to drop off.

These are just some of the stressful situations air passengers face that can make a long (or even a short) haul flight unbearable. Thankfully as the years have worn on I have become savvy to the secrets of being able to sleep like a baby on a plane (although the dribbling, diaper wearing kind never do) and so I proudly now share them with you!

Things to do before your trip

A window seat is the perfect place to snooze. Photo by tylerdurden1 (flickr)
A window seat is the perfect place to snooze. Photo by tylerdurden1 (flickr)

Book the right seat ahead of your journey - One big factor in how much shut-eye you can get will depend on where you are sitting. An aisle seat is just asking for trouble; that air hostess with her peanuts, or people clambering over you to get in or out to the toilet or their baggage. The middle seat is just as bad with elbows, knees and heads bobbing constantly into your personal space. This leaves the window seat – the perfect place for a snooze. The window seat means that you have the added advantage of the inside of the plane to rest your head against. If push comes to shove you can even rest your arm on the little ledge the windows have. Ahhh, but what about the bright light you ask? Well, as long as your fellow passengers don’t mind, put the window blind down or see secret number 2 below!

A good snooze. Photo by hoyasmeg (flickr)
A good snooze. Photo by hoyasmeg (flickr)
Boarding plane from tarmac. Ask for pillows and blanket as soon as you board. Photo by: nayukim
Boarding plane from tarmac. Ask for pillows and blanket as soon as you board. Photo by: nayukim

Things to help you sleep on the flight

Invest in an eye mask, a neck pillow and ear plugs - I used to snigger at those people on the plane who had taken these precautions. For that I humbly apologize - an eye mask, ear plugs and a neck pillow were the best investments for flight travel that I have ever made. The eye mask suitably blocks out the light (should your fellow passengers grumble about putting the blind down), the ear plugs block out the noise, and the neck pillow helps you find a comfy position so you do not wake up with the worst crick in the neck ever.

Ask for pillows and blankets as soon as you board - Armed with your trusty eye mask, ear plugs and neck pillow, it is time to bag those extra pillows and some blankets as soon as you board. It is amazing how planes have a lack of these supplies. Perhaps the staff are bored, waiting for the moment when two people arm wrestle to see who gets custody of the small, itchy blanket. That old adage, “first come, first served” rings very true here. Before the hostess even opens her mouth to greet you onto your flight, ask them for a blanket and pillow. You will thank me later for this tip, I promise you!

Relaxing at Seoul Airport Lounge before boarding. Photo by Erik Charlton (flickr)
Relaxing at Seoul Airport Lounge before boarding. Photo by Erik Charlton (flickr)
In-Flight Magazine & Red Wine. Photo by Hyougushi (flickr)
In-Flight Magazine & Red Wine. Photo by Hyougushi (flickr)

Things to do before boarding the plane

Empty your bladder before you board - There is nothing worse than just getting to the land of nod and then needing to visit the bathroom. And since you're in the window seat, it means clambering over the folks in the middle and aisle seats to get out. You'd hate to wake them, wouldn't you?

Relax before boarding - Although there can be a mixture of excitement and worry before boarding a long flight, it pays to relax as much as you can before you head down the jetway to the big tin can. This is especially true if there are stress factors like flight delays or overbooking, that can make you edgy before the flight. Take the weight off your feet and breathe deep; read a book, listen to your favorite music, or take a light cat nap (if you're with somebody else, who can be sure to wake you when it's time to board!). Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed, then do it.

If all else fails - Try a glass of wine. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a secret to getting to sleep on a plane, but it can help you relax, and get in the mood for your vacation. And if you've tried all of these secrets and still don’t get any shut-eye, then you deserve a glass of the old vino!


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Comments? 4 comments

sligobay profile image

sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

Thanks for another interesting and useful article. I'm probably the guy that disturbs others on long flights. i take the aisle seat because I frequently walk to the toilet just for the stretch. I doze but rarely sleep. One sleepless flight was descibed as a hike from Budapest to New York. Cheers,


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Those are great tips - they would probably work except that I'm scared WITLESS on a plane so nothing works! I seriously need to take a class or just do what I do best to deal with it - not fly!


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 6 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Sligobay - Thanks for taking the aisle seat, to not disturb us window-sleepers in your strolls! LOL (-;


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 6 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

akirchner - Sorry to hear that! I'm totally fine with avoiding other scary things like big hairy spiders, and standing on high ledges, but it's a lot harder to get to Greece without flying! (-;

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