Expert Reveals Top Tips for Sleeping on a Plane During Long Flights

Sleeping on a plane is not always simple, but there are tricks to try to help you nod off.

Martin Seeley, the sleep expert at retailer MattressNextDay, has given his top tips for how best to get some sleep on a plane. If you haven’t been lucky enough to upgrade to business or first-class, you’ll likely be sitting in a fairly cramped seat. But don’t worry – choosing the right seat can make all the difference. Avoid sitting near the toilets as that’s where people tend to congregate and chat. Instead, try to pick a seat in the same row as the wing. It’s likely to be the quietest area and usually where the emergency exit is based, so you’ll have more legroom.

Photo by cottonbro studio:
Photo by cottonbro studio:

Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity can boost sleep quality, so get to the terminal early to spend time walking before you board. As soon as you board, set your watch and phone to the time at your destination and then behave accordingly. For example, if you’re flying in the afternoon but it’s nighttime where you’re going, you should try to sleep. However, if you’re flying long haul, you should also adjust the time on the lead-up to your flight by adjusting your bedtime by an hour or two a few days before you fly. Both of these tips will help your internal body clock adjust, making you less susceptible to jet lag.

If sleep is your priority on the journey, download white noise music, as it has frequencies that block distracting environmental sounds, before you fly. Researchers have found that it significantly helps people who have difficulty sleeping due to high levels of environmental noise. If you don’t find it relaxing, you could pre-download sleep stories or meditation guides that can be found online at the likes of Headspace or Calm.

Photo by Pixabay:
Photo by Pixabay:

While you may be tempted to sink a few alcoholic drinks to sleep, booze actually disrupts your sleep. Booze will lowers the quality, making you more tired when you wake. So bin the booze and sip water  throughout your flight to stay hydrated. This will boost your chances of better sleep. To listen to white noise or sleep stories, you’ll need headphones, but don’t bring any old ones. As flying can be very noisy, sometimes more than 85 decibels, which is louder than a vacuum, a noise-cancelling set is best. Don’t use wireless earphones as you may wake up and find that one has fallen out.

If flying late or through the night, an eye mask is essential to block out light from TV screens and reading lights. While some airlines provide these, they’re of lower quality and usually let in light. Buy one that is soft, can mould around your face, and has a good cover to block out the light. If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to have a much more pleasant sleep on a plane. No matter where you’re headed.


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Header Image Credit:Image by DCStudio on Freepik

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