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10 great tips for sleeping on a plane (even if you’re stuck in coach)

Hate feeling like a zombie after a flight? Here's how to sleep on a plane so you don't need a day to recover

Ground Picture / Shutterstock

When you book that flight for vacation, you want to arrive at your destination ready to go, go, go, not to crawl into your hotel bed and sleep the rest of the first day away. Most people use the flight as a time to get a nap in, so when they land, they can get right to it without looking like they walked the whole way instead of flying. If you haven’t nailed down a routine to fall asleep on a flight, we have the tips for sleeping on a plane, no matter what section or seat you’ll be in. 

Passengers waiting at the airport, killing time o their phones.
𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀/Unsplash

Before you board

Be tired

Great words of wisdom, we know. But if you take a nap before your flight and then grab a coffee on the way, there is no way you will sleep on that plane. Skip the bean juice and get to the airport a little sleepy. We aren’t saying to pull an all-nighter — stay safe — but go to bed as late as possible or wake up ridiculously early.

Schedule your flight just right

There are a few booking tips to follow if you want to sleep on your flight. If it’s possible, have a direct flight. Flights with connections might be cheaper, but you won’t get to sleep at all worrying about missing that connection. 

When it comes to picking the time, aim for late afternoon. That way if you didn’t get a full night’s sleep, you’ll start to get droopy-eyed around that time.

Try to get those good seats

Window seats are the easiest spot — no matter where on the plane you are — to nap in, so do your best to get one. If you land one that also has no one next to you in the middle seat, you will be set for prime sleeping positions.

Bring your comfort item from home

Kids have their favorite stuffed animal, and you might have your favorite item you can’t sleep without. Whether that’s a certain pair of socks, a blanket, or perhaps a stuffed animal, bring it. Having that creature comfort could help lull you to sleep easier, as well as help you stay calm if flights are hard for you.

Don’t dress to impress

Gone are the days when you need to wear your best clothing on a flight. Unless you have to go straight from the airport to someplace nice, break out those cozy sweats and sneakers for the trip. Just please keep your shoes on during the flight.

Dmitry Galaganov / Shutterstock

How to get comfy on the plane

Use your carry-on to your advantage

You could use your bag as a footrest to help your legs be more comfortable. Prop one foot up, both, or do whatever works to fall asleep, but using your bag at least gives you options.

You could also hug your bag to your chest and use it as a body pillow to give you a better angle to sleep. Sleeping on your tray table isn’t the most comfortable if you don’t have a pillow or blanket, but giving your bag a squeeze gives you a cozy place to put your head.

Use all of the sleeping aids

Bring your earplugs, headphones, and sleep mask. If you can’t sleep with all the sounds around you, those noise-canceling headphones will be key. Block out the light, sound, or whatever else you need to in order to fall asleep. If it’s a long flight, maybe pack sleeping pills.

If you are someone who needs sounds to fall asleep, play soft classical music only. Or, read up on pink noise and brown noise, and see which would be best to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Give your nose something good to smell

Scents like lavender, rose, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing, meant to relax you and make you sleepy. The only problem with this one is if your seat buddies don’t like them, it would be a little rude. If you have essential oils or a lotion you could bring in your carry-on, ask the people in your row if they would mind if you put some on.

No screens

Yes, just like at home before bed, put the screens away. You’ll be tempted to scroll for hours, so turn your phone off and don’t open your laptop. Don’t even plan to watch that movie you’ve been trying to get to. Put all devices away so you aren’t tempted, and just close your eyes.

Make sure the flight attendants leave you alone

If you don’t want a drink or snack when they come around, either let the people in your row know you don’t or put a blanket over your head so you’re left alone. 

If you aren’t going to use your seat back tray as a place to rest your head, make sure it’s up as a signal you don’t want anything. 

Try to sit and sleep in a way where the flight attendant is able to see your seatbelt is on, in case you are still sleeping when they check that.

We all want our flight to be as smooth as possible, but we also want to get right to our visit without looking like a jet-lagged zombie. Not everyone has the skill to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but you don’t have to be jealous of those people. Between plane temperatures that aren’t ideal, noisy seat neighbors, and the excitement about where you’re going getting to you, that in-flight nap needs to happen. Knowing the best way to sleep on a plane, no matter what kind of flight it is, is our gift to you for your next trip.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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