There are two types of travelers: those who can sleep on a plane and those who can’t. Noise, light, turbulence and temperature changes are not the best conditions to rest. It can be a difficult challenge to overcome but here are seven tips that could help you get some sleep next time you board a plane.
1. Choose your seat wisely
The most important thing to sleep on the plane is to choose your seat well. Although the ideal would be to be in business class or to have the whole row to yourself (choosing the middle seat could increase your chances), you have no choice but to choose the window seat.
A window seat has the advantage of allowing you to recharge (clean the windows first), lower or raise the blinds and avoid being woken up by other passengers going to the bathroom. If you are left-handed, sit on the left side; if you are right-handed, on the right side.
Avoid emergency exits, because some seats do not recline or the armrests are fixed, and the seats all the way back or all the way forward, so that the noise from the restroom or the pursers’ area does not bother you.
2. Avoid sources of light
Light is another fundamental factor for a good night’s sleep. In principle, it is important to wear a good mask, preferably one of those with volume because they do not let light through.
Also, when you go to sleep, avoid looking at your cell phone or entertainment screen. The blue light from electronics is equivalent to natural light, so your body does not start producing melatonin, the sleep hormone.
3. Protect yourself from noise
Between the hum of the plane itself, outside conversations, children and airline staff, silence is an element that is rarely enjoyed when flying. That’s why it’s important to bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones with you, especially if you’re a light sleeper. It can also be a great option to listen to relaxing music or do some meditation.
4. Bring a pillow (and a blanket)
Since some planes have them and some don’t (especially on shorter flights), it’s smart to bring a good blanket (with the seatbelt strapped on top) and a pillow. There are many practical and comfortable options, from traditional U-shaped cushions to scarf/pillow mixes and designs for side sleepers. The idea is to feel as much at home as possible.
Tip: some seats have flexible headrests that can be adjusted to support your head more comfortably.
5. Have a drink?
Having a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage can help you fall asleep. However, it only works for about three to four hours, so you may wake up and not be able to fall asleep. Also, if you drink too much or are not used to doing so, you may wake up with a headache and feeling thirsty.
6. Pack light
If you’re carrying two suitcases or personal items, you’ll probably have to carry one under the seat, which will limit your ability to stretch out or settle in. Pack light and make the best use of space.
Tip: try not to cross your legs, especially if your flight is longer than four hours, as this increases your risk of blood clots and can hurt your back.
7. Avoid too much stimulation
Although it is perfectly understandable to spend the whole flight watching movies, if you want to sleep, you will have to moderate yourself. It will be much more difficult to fall asleep after watching an action or horror movie.