Woman sleeping in a chair with headphones on

Tips for Sleeping on a Plane

As most of us are keenly aware, sleeping on a plane is not the easiest thing to do. There’s usually not much room to stretch out, children can be less than aware of where their feet are kicking and how loud their voices are, and your next neighbor’s iPad can be bright.
If you have a hard time taking a power nap on planes, you’re definitely not alone. Using these tips to get the best sleep on your next flight will ensure that you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for whatever adventure you’re taking on.

Get yourself set-up before you leave

Start by booking a red-eye flight if possible. Flying around the time you’d normally go to be will make it much easier to go to sleep. Additionally, you have a better chance that the rest of the passengers will all be on the same page.
Download guided meditation audio, white noise, or ocean sounds. Calming sounds will get your mind ready to relax, you might even be able to trick yourself into thinking you’re anywhere else besides a small airplane seat.
Choosing the right seat is important too. Window seats are the most conducive for sleep since you have a wall next to you to lean against. Plus, you won’t have to worry about waking up to let your seatmate with a small bladder go the lav 10 times. Speaking of the lav, make sure you’re sitting as far away from there as possible. If you’re a light sleeper, being close to high-traffic areas can make it impossible to go to and stay asleep.

Pack light and right

Most flights only allow for 1 carry-on bag to be stowed away in the overhead storage bins. So, if you have more than one bag, you may have to stash those under the seat in front of you, which cuts in on your legroom. If you have a few miscellaneous items that you can’t fit into one carry-on, consider wearing a light jacket with a few pockets. You can usually fit a jacket on top of your carry on in overhead storage or use it as a pillow or blanket.
Pack a pair of headphones and an eye-cover. Make sure you have your headphones somewhere easy to access before you get on the plane, and stick your eye mask in your pocket. Blocking out light and sound will help you to stay asleep for longer with less chances of being disrupted by fellow passengers.

Watch what you drink

Complimentary alcohol on international flights can be tempting, especially if you’re a nervous flyer. But, the sleep you get when you drink simply isn’t as good as the sleep you get when you’re sober. No one wants to be hungover and jetlagged. So, limit yourself to one drink.
It might seem obvious, but try to avoid caffeine if possible for the day you are traveling. However, in order to lessen the chances of feeling fatigued after your long flight, make sure you are hydrating before and during your flight. Just make sure you aren’t over hydrating and getting up every 10 minutes to use the lav.

Eat something

Most long flights feature a meal served in-flight, however, if you have dietary restrictions you’ll want to bring something to tide yourself over until you make it to your destination. Make sure you look into what food options are available before you fly so you can prepare by bringing snacks if you need to or a card to purchase some in-flight. You’ll also want to avoid any foods that may cause indigestion as it could interrupt your sleep.

Prepare your body for sleep

Start preparing your body for in-flight snoozing by stretching while you’re waiting at the gate. After you board the plane and the lights dim, do some deep breathing. Putting your electronics away to avoid the blue light that they emit will improve your body’s melatonin production. Don’t think too hard about it, whatever you do at home, try to replicate in-flight. If you read a book before bed, bring it. Familiar routines will help queue your body in on what you want it to do.
If all else fails, think about taking a sleep aid like melatonin or ZzzQuil. Just be sure to test it out before you’re on the plane to see how it affects you.

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