How To Sleep On A Plane: 5 Effective Tips For The Frequent Traveler

how to sleep on a plane dark main cabin

Does your sleep schedule dread the approaching red-eye or long-haul flight? Does the middle seat give you a bad case of the pre-flight jitters? Are you wondering how to sleep on a plane when you're jammed between two passengers and a crying baby?

If so, we've put together a list of five effective tips for sleeping on a plane that'll help you catch more of those blissful ZZZs in the sky, no matter how many hours are between you and your final destination.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the best in-flight entertainment there is: a dreamy snoozefest among the clouds!

How To Sleep On A Plane: 5 Effective Tips For The Frequent Traveler

Today's airplane seats are thinner and less cushy, which can make flying in the main cabin a grumpy experience. Seat pitch is also seeing a decline across the board, with some airlines going from 35 to 29 inches of legroom.

That's why learning how to sleep on a plane has become an essential survival skill for the frequent traveler. Here's how to do it:

Tip #1: Dress the part

You can't learn how to sleep on a plane if you're going to wear bulky clothes, like raw denim jeans and chunky wool sweaters.

Instead, we recommend wearing pajama-like bottoms and a lightweight top that won't get in the way of a smooth slumber. Wearing loose, comfortable clothing will help your body to relax and fall asleep easier, so you can be well-rested for your connecting flight.

Tip #2: Invest in an insulated travel blanket

A lightweight insulated travel blanket is one of the best tips for sleeping on a plane, as it can keep you warm without weighing you down. Simply drape it over your body and you'll be dreaming away in no time.

If you're looking to up your travel blanket game, choose one that's anti-static, has at least a 50℉ warmth rating, and features an over-the-neck snap to keep it from slipping off your body while you count sheep, like this one.

Tip #3: Wear a sleep mask

A sleep mask is a good idea for anyone who wants to learn how to sleep on a plane. Not only will it block out any unwanted incoming light, but it will also help you get in a few more winks between meal and beverage services.

Make sure your sleep mask is comfortable and adjustable, with a wide strip of padding across the forehead made from a soft material, like silk or satin. For some serious shut-eye, try a sleep mask with built-in headphones. That way, you can doze off to a soothing tune or guided meditation right after takeoff.

Tip #4: Bring a pair of earplugs

There's nothing quite as grating as the sound of a howling baby or an obnoxiously loud snorer sitting in the seat beside you. Wouldn't it be great if you could just block out that noise and fall into a deep, restorative sleep?

Of course it would! And that's why we recommend packing a pair of earplugs in your carry-on bag. These noise-reducing nuggets are a bit like shopping for shoes, meaning they're not one-size-fits-all. To choose the right one for you, start by assessing how much noise you want to block. Then, consider your ear shape and earplug material (e.g., foam vs silicone).

Tip #5: Use a neck pillow for extra support

Our last tip for sleeping on a plane is to use a neck pillow. Because let's face it: While how to sleep on a plane tips #1-4 can help you catch more ZZZs, using a neck pillow can improve how you feel when you wake up.

This small, yet mighty travel pillow can go a long way in supporting your head and extended neck while also relieving pressure on your shoulders and upper back. This way, you won't feel like you've been sleeping with a log jamming into your headrest for the past five hours.

So there you have it: five tips for sleeping on a plane that will help you feel refreshed upon landing, so you can conquer the road no matter where it leads you.

Happy trails, dreamy traveler!


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