16  Tips for Sleeping on a Plane

16 Tips for Sleeping on a Plane

Written by Dreamcloud Editorial Team

Last Updated on Nov 21, 2022

In this article:

    We have all tried to grab a quick snooze whenever on a flight. Unless you are flying first class, the congested seats and the loud noises make a cozy nap seem like the furthest thing possible. However, during long flights, enjoying shuteye is essential to ensure you don’t experience exhaustion or jet lag. But don’t worry, we have got you! Today, we bring you 16 wonderful tips on how to sleep on a plane. Just read ahead to know all about it.

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    1. Stay at the right temperature

    As per science, the right temperature for sleep is 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the cabin temperature is around 71 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. And the temperature keeps fluctuating. A study also shows approximately 60% of planes experience temperature shifts around 50 degrees. Therefore, it is always ideal to wear comfy light clothes to remain cool.

    2. Wear bed socks

    Don’t forget to carry a pair of warm bed socks in your hand baggage. So, when it is time to snooze, you can switch your shoes to socks, get in a comfy position, and try to nap. Why does this work? According to a study, feet-warming socks were 7.6% beneficial in helping you fall asleep and reduced the awakenings to 7.5 times.

    3. Power down your devices

    Blue light is a no-no when it comes to catching the zzzs. Therefore, keep your tablets, mobile phones, and computers away before you try sleeping.

    4. Wear a light-blocking eye mask

    Do you know the reason why we tend to feel sleepy at night? It is because of the circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock. It works in correlation with natural light. And as per a study, room light shortened melatonin duration by 90 minutes. Therefore, when trying to sleep, it is always best to block the light; an eye mask can help you out.

    5. Listen to pink noise

    One of our favorite ways to pass the time when flying is by listening to our favorite playlist. However, ditch your favorite tunes to pink noise when sleeping on an airplane. According to a study, listening to pink noise decreased the time taken by participants by almost 38%. 

    6. Wear noise-canceling headphones or earplugs

    If you are one of the unlucky ones, you may encounter crying children on the plane, disrupting your sleep. Also, planes can be noisy sometimes. So, one of the tips for sleeping on a plane includes wearing noise-canceling headphones. This will eliminate any noise, and you can enjoy your slumber peacefully.

    7. Uncross legs and use footrests

    Use a footrest and keep your legs straight with a slight bend. According to the CDC, crossing your legs can put pressure on one side of the body. And it can result in blood clots too. Another tip you can try on how to sleep on an overnight flight is to keep your luggage under the seat so you can easily straighten your legs.

    8. Lean backward with proper support

    Reclining on the right can be the best way to sleep on an airplane. According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine experts, a 135-degree angle can be the best position. But sometimes, when you fly economy, it can be slightly difficult. So, try to move about 40 degrees back. Also, use armrests, as they can provide relief from any back pressure.

    9. Add a pillow to the lower seat back

    Of course, we are meant to sleep on a bed and not sit upright. But sometimes, you have to make the most of the situation. So, one of the flight sleeping tips is to place a small pillow to support the lower back. If not a pillow, you can just use a rolled-up jacket. Experts suggest that lumbar support is essential as it increases your comfort level and reduces back pain on long flights.

    10. Embrace a neck pillow

    One of the significant reasons why sleeping on a flight seems tedious is that we cannot support our necks properly. This is where neck pillows come into play. As per a survey, U-shaped neck pillows that supported the chin could also keep your head in a comfortable position while reducing any movements.

    11. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

    A glass of wine sounds ideal, right? After all, it can help you feel drowsy. Wrong. Alcohol isn’t the answer here because while it may put you to sleep, it leads to poor sleep quality, more awakenings, and less deep sleep. And caffeine can remain in your body for almost 10 hours and delay circadian rhythm. So, just a glass of water, maybe?

    12. Try lavender aromatherapy

    Lavender is a great way to induce sleepiness. The added advantage is that it also helps you relax your senses. In fact, lavender also increases slow-wave sleep, where your heartbeat becomes slightly slow and relaxes the muscles. For this aid for sleeping on a plane, you can use a lavender perfume or pour a few drops of the essential oil on some tissue and keep it in your pocket before you leave the house.

    13. Munch on potassium-high snacks

    Instead of eating calorie-rich heavy food, stick to potassium-rich snacks as they can aid your blood pressure and help you sleep well.

    14. Stay humid and hydrated

    The recommended indoor humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. However, airplane cabins have about 20 percent humidity. And these conditions can block the nasal passages, making it difficult to sleep. Therefore, to soothe them, you can drink some hot water or tea to help you out.

    15. Practice mindfulness meditation

    Flying can be stressful for some. Therefore, you can always practice mindful meditation. It helps you focus on breathing and become aware of the moment. When you practice mindful breathing, it enables you to fight sleeplessness.

    16. Pick a comfortable Face mask

    A sleep mask can be calming and make your brain feel calm and comfortable. If it is a part of your sleep routine, it tells your brain that it is now time to shut off.

    Sleeping on a Plane with Sleeping Pills: Dos and Don'ts

    Expedia says that almost 15% of travelers use medication, such as sleeping pills, to help them snooze on the plane. While sleep can be a powerful aid to relax and rejuvenate your mind,  a few pills have side effects that may not be beneficial for you. Therefore, always ask your doctor first before you take any. To induce sleep, you can also try alternate medicine, such as lavender oil or chamomile tea.

    Things to Do Before You Fly

    A few things you can do before you fly to make yourself comfortable include;

    Choose the right seat

    Window seats are always the best option. They offer you a view and help you lean on the wall, helping your body relax more. And the best part? You will not have to get up whenever your neighbor needs to visit the washroom. 

    Change your sleep schedule before the flight

    Make sure you adjust your sleeping schedule to your flight timings, so you can fall asleep easily. For instance, you can wake up early if you have a flight at night so you can sleep on a plane without any hassles. 

    Follow a routine

    When you are in the airport, follow the same schedule as you would otherwise; it may be working on your laptop, reading a book, and more. 

    Exercise before the flight

    Try some exercise before your flight, as it can help you fall asleep easily and decrease the time taken to wake up.

    Long flights can feel neverending. But don’t worry, having a plan in place can make it easier for you to sleep on a plane. Such as booking a window seat, carrying a neck pillow, and more. Remember, while it may be slightly challenging to enjoy a comfortable snooze on the plane, it is not difficult.

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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