Alaska Sleep Education Center

Travel-Tested Tips for Productive Sleeping on Planes

Posted by Scott Matthews on Mar 7, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Noise. Restricted legroom. People climbing all over you. There’s also that noise coming from small children playing games (loudly) on their smartphone. Some of them even scream.

DreamWeaver-plane-resized-600You know what I’m talking about… plane traveling is lousy, and it’s certainly one of the worst environments for those who want to take a nap or simply sleep during the flight. Nevertheless, sleeping on planes is possible if you know how to adapt to your environment.

The experience you’re having during a flight is similar to all your experiences – things happen, and you must react. If you react wisely, you’ll have a productive sleep during the flight. If you burst into anger, you’ll solve nothing and risk getting fines or another type of legal problems. Plus, nobody likes an impatient jerk who yells when he can’t solve his problems!

In today’s post, I’m sharing 7 actionable travel-tested tips for productive sleeping on planes. Sleeping is not difficult if you give yourself the proper tools and use the right techniques. Let’s get started!

1.    Choose the Best Seat

If there’s one factor that truly counts when it comes to sleeping on a plane, it’s the seat. The first thing you must decide is whether you’ll go with the first class/premium class or the second/economy class. The difference is pretty significant, so if you can easily afford it, flying on luxurious first classes is ideal for drifting off during the flight.

Nevertheless, when the premium option is not an option, adaptability comes into play.

Score the window seat! If you can, book it before the flight. This positioning gives you something to lean against and it’ll keep you “safe” from folks who constantly get up or frequently go to the bathroom. Moreover, you’ll gain additional control over the window shade.

If you’re thinking about exit row and bulkhead seats, think again. Of course, the additional leg space sounds tempting, but the disadvantages are not worth it: some exit row seats can’t be reclined, the armrests of some bulkhead seats are stuck, and bulkhead seats are often reserved by families with babies and young and loud children.

Also make sure you avoid the last seats of the plane, as the seats don't recline and there could be a smell coming from the lavatories.

Lastly, booking a seat near the front of the plane is often better booking it near the back. The noise from the engines is making sleeping very difficult, especially for those who sit in the back. However, the extra space in the back might be worth considering!

If you always forget to book your seat or confirm your check-in, services like EssayOnTime or AU Essays On Time can help you get the best seats all the time.

2.    Avoid Caffeine and Try a Sleep Aidtravelwithcpap-3

Avoiding caffeine before planning to sleep is common sense. You don’t drink coffee before heading to your home bed, and you should definitely avoid it before any flight.

Caffeine is found not just in coffee, but also in various sweets and sodas. For example, Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew are well known for their fair amounts of caffeine.

Abstaining from caffeine or other stimulating substances is one step. The second is providing your body with the right substances that’ll encourage the secretion of melatonin and Dramamine. Melatonin is a natural substance that allows us to fall asleep. Dramamine is a motion sickness cure that you take in order to avoid throwing up when traveling.

It depends on you what you want to take but be aware that Dramamine can make you a bit drowsy. If you want to sleep and then wake up and be alert, avoid Dramamine. Here are some other foods/drinks you may consume to prepare for better sleep:

  • Sweet potatoes (they help you relax)
  • Herbal teas (Chamomile, Valerian root, Lavender, Passionflower)
  • Almonds (reduces muscle and nerve function and steadies the heart rhythm)
  • Cherries + nuts + oats (a natural source of melatonin)

3.    Bring Your Own Blanket and Pillow

Most planes don’t guarantee a pillow and blanket for every passenger. If the other people have claimed them all, your sleep plans will be sabotaged.

The easiest way to predict this from happening is to bring your own blanket and neck pillow.

The team behind UK Careers Booster suggest that there’s quite a controversy when it comes to “sleeping” neck pillows, as many people report them to be uncomfortable.

I believe that it’s all subjective – try it first. If it feels good, bring it with you on the flight.

4.    Use Headphones to Listen to Calming Music

If you use your headphones to watch movies and TV-shows, you’re defeating the purpose of sleeping. Obviously, watching something immersive and entertaining can make your flight pass faster, but will it ever improve your energy levels? It could, but that’s not very common.

You should bring on your headphones and enjoy soothing and relaxing music. Classical, ambient, chillstep, you call it. As long as you avoid lyrics and focus on the instrumentals, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.

5.    Dress Comfortably and Take Off Your Shoes

If sleeping on the is truly your goal and you’re truly committed to making it happen no matter what, you should pay attention to the way you dress. Traveling in a suit is not the very definition of “dressing up for success”.

For women, wearing knit pants and a cozy sweater is way better than jeans and jackets. For men, training suits can do the trick. Unless you care about the way you look in the plane, you should always choose comfortable clothes. Also, take off your shoes – there’s no shame in that as long as nothing smells odd.

6.    Be Brave and Slowly Recline Your Seat

Travel_Brieftcase_Carry_On_CPAPReclining your seat is the simplest and most effective way to improve your comfort during the flight. However, be very courteous when doing it because it can make the person behind your seat uncomfortable. Before you make rushed moves, make sure that the passenger behind doesn’t spill his coffee.

During night flights, most people will recline their seats because the majority want to sleep. Therefore, be polite while you do it but always do it!

7.    Set an Alarm Before the Plane Lands

More often than not, waking up is worse than falling asleep, especially if you’re on a plane flight. If the landing wakes you up, chaos seems to be unleashed: luggage carousels, strong sunlight, fluorescent lights, and a terrible engine sound.

“The best advice I could give you is to set the alarm before the plane lands and get ready for landing. Pick up your things, go to the bathroom if needed, drink a coffee, and observe your destination as you get closer.” – Manager at Best Essays and daily plane traveler.

Do that and you’ll be fully awake by the time you have to get out. After all, isn’t sleeping on a plane all about that? Don’t spoil it by “missing” the landing!



Whether you like it or not, resting while traveling on an airplane isn’t always possible. In those cases, simply accept the situation and find another occupation. Read, meditate, or simply listen to your favorite songs. Check again, and if the mood is better and the conditions allow it, take that nap.

Use our tips and tricks to improve the quality of your sleep, but not only. By taking our advice into consideration, you’re also improving the overall flight experience quality.

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About the Author:  Scott Matthews is a highly passionate traveler who works as a content developer at Brill Assignment and Rushmyessay. He is also a regular contributor at Besides, Scott is an assignment writing professional who provides pro-bono academic guidance, thus improving students’ personal and professional lives.


Topics: travel, sleep deprivation, flying

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