The Traveller's Magazine icon
The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Getting shut-eye on a plane isn’t always the easiest thing, especially when you’re crammed between two strangers on both sides of you and your seat doesn’t recline as much as you’d like it to. Other passengers move up and down, add in a crying baby and you’ve got disaster. How to sleep on a plane, here are the essentials.

For most travellers, once boarding long-haul and red-eye flights it’s all about getting comfy and praying for sleep. While some extremely lucky travellers have harnessed the skill of being able to sleep any time and anywhere, this unfortunately isn’t a skill all of us have.

If you struggle to sleep while flying, don’t fret. You’re not the only one! But there’s hope. By choosing a good seat and bringing some sleeping essentials, you’ll be snoozing off on your next flight in no time.

Choose your seat carefully

Where your seat is located is the most important factor as to how well you’re going to sleep. If you want to sleep, the window seat is best, that way you have something to lean against and you won’t have to get up every time one of your row-mates needs to use the toilet. Avoid the exit row seats, they don’t decline… a major downfall for sleepy travellers (the same goes for the last row of seats in any section).

Simplify your carry-on luggage

If you bring two pieces of carry-on, be sure that at least one will end up under the seat in front of you, taking up your precious legroom. Try to fit everything into one bag, keeping your in-flights necessities near the top or in an outside pocket. Keep your eye-shade, magazine, bottle of water and snack foods easily accessible. Take out what you need for the flight before you sit down, that way you won’t have to get up again once the seat-belt sign has been turned off.

Skip the pre-departure coffee

airport coffeeCaffeine and sleep are eternal enemies. This goes especially for mid-day flights. If you hope for a cat-nap, avoid drinking coffee or anything caffeinated up to 5 hours before your flight. Instead 100% pure fruit juices and water are the best choices while waiting at the airport and when the drink cart comes down your aisle.

Bring the sleeping essentials

In order to sleep you have to get comfortable. While it’s impossible to mimmick your bed at home on a plane, with the right position and supplies you will be ready to doze off in no time. First, blankets and pillows. There never seems to be enough of them on the plane so grab them as soon as you reach your seat. If you tend to get cold easily, take two blankets. Next are neck pillows. Some love them, some hate them but the inflatable ones are perfect and compact. Don’t blow it up all the way, just 2/3 and find just the right position… we’re talking luxury right here. Earplugs or the most expensive Bose noise-cancelling headphones, can never be over-rated.

Recline with care

If you’ve seen our past post about the 10 most annoying things people do on planes, you know that aggressive recliners are near the top. On over-night flights it’s pretty much a no-brainer that most passengers will be trying to sleep before arriving at their destination. That being said, it’s always good style to just pop your head behind and make sure the coast is clear before reclining.

What are your secrets for sleeping on planes?

Img: Don Fulano, Nicola since 1972 / Flickr cc.


Looking for your next trip? Find the best flights with us!

One response to “Sleeping on a plane: The ultimate guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

footer logo
Made with for you