Don’t you just hate people who can sleep on a flight? Double hate if they’ve got the aisle seat and you’re trapped by the window.

Confession time: I’m one of them.

I often wake up in the sky, having missed the take off or endless announcements over the tinny loudspeakers. I slept through the whole thing. I can take advantage of cheap early morning flights and arrive at my destination with a good few hours sleep in the bank, ready for sightseeing and a bite to eat.

Some people hate me, I know, but only because they want to be me. Here are a few tips for how to sleep on airplanes.

Sleeping on a plane

1. Make good decisions

One major determining factor when it comes to how much shut eye you’ll be getting is your seat position. Sitting too close to the front or back of the plane can mean you’re walled in by families eager to get their little ones on and off first. This is also where you’ll get the most people traffic from people going to and from the toilet.

It’s noisy, sometimes smelly, and too frantic for any sleep.

Opt for a window seat in the middle of the plane instead. This is the most unpopular part of the plane, so could also lead to an extra seat here and there.

2. Prep a playlist

Forward plan and sort your playlist out well ahead of time. It will be well worth it.

Download a chill out playlist or compile a chart of snoozy tunes so that you can plug in and power off. Use inner ear bud earphones so that you can stop that horrible tinny/white noise sound you get on planes too.

3. Time travel

Before you even leave the runway, set your phone or watch to the time zone of your destination. A quick time check when you’re half asleep can lead to calculations that might make you feel like you should be awake, so do yourself a favour and reset before you jet.

Essentials for sleeping on a flight

4. Bring the essentials

A decent eye mask and quality ear plugs should be your carry-on essentials. Blocking out light and noise is fairly imperative when you’re trying to sleep alongside 150 strangers.

Covering up and plugging in will give you a better chance of ignoring that screaming child and the bright lights of the trolley service.

5. Keep it loose

You’ll have to leave those leather trousers in the suitcase, along with that bodycon number. To avoid any constricted blood flow, it’s all about loose-fitting clothing on any plane ride. I’ve been known to wear my pyjamas in the past, just to trick myself into really believing it’s time for bed. So comfy.

6. Perform your routine

Not your ‘90s dance moves but your normal bedtime ritual. Perhaps you wash your face then scrub your teeth, read your book or watch a quick episode of something? Whatever it is you do on a normal night at home, try and go through that same routine onboard. It’ll help lead your mind into believing it’s a normal evening and hopefully make it easier to sleep.

Wearing pyjamas on a plane

7. Get friendly with fellow passengers

If you’re unlucky and end up sandwiched in between two strangers, try talking to them to break the ice. If you’ve had a quick chat you’ll feel less awkward when you’ve got to wake them for a bathroom break and even less embarrassed when you wake up dribbling on their shoulder.

(Don’t ever do that).

8. Get cosy

Aeroplane blankets usually have a certain musk and aren’t always the softest on your skin, but they’re the best you’ve got. Combine wrapping one around you with wearing your favourite hoody and hopefully you’ll be braced against the air con and be cosy enough to drift off.

You never know how forcefully they’re going to blast that air conditioning, so if there are any spare blankets about claim them as your own before someone else beats you to it.

9. Find a position that works for you

This one is easier said than done, but if your legs are cramped up and your back straight, you’ve got no chance of sleep.

Avoid crossing your legs if you want to bypass pins and needles and consider bringing along an inflatable pillow to stop your head bobbing around and waking you up.

I like to put my feet up, with socks on, onto the corner of the arm rest in front. I can only sleep for about an hour before something goes numb, but it’s still an hour, right?

Sleeping on a plane

10. Bare the buckle

Fasten that bad boy over your blanket so stewards can see that you’re sleeping with safety in mind. It’s SO annoying when they nudge you awake for a quick seatbelt check when you’re all strapped in and ready to sleep.

11. Avoid the midnight meals

Tucking into the in-flight meal is something you do on autopilot but think first. Consider what’s on the tray and if it’s going to help or hinder your sleep. Cheese might give you a few turbulent nightmares while lots of liquid could have you queuing by the restroom.

Only have it if you’re really hungry and really need it. It’s just not worth it otherwise.

12. Turn off the TV

It can be tempting to nosedive into the long list of TV faves and Hollywood blockbusters, but if you want to get some serious shut eye you should put your TV in sleep mode. Leaving the screen flickering means you’ll only be itching to browse the channels, but save that energy for when you land. You can watch it on Netflix when you get home! 


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