Some of us were born with the super power of being able to sleep anywhere, including on a plane while curled up like a pretzel in economy class. The rest of us, however, need all the help we can get to secure a restful sleep on long haul flights. To help you get more kip on your next flight, here are my top tips for sleeping on a plane, including the apps and accessories frequent flyers swear by.
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How to Sleep on a Plane in Economy Class
9 top tips for getting more kip
1. Pick your seat wisely
Where you sit on the aircraft can have a massive impact on your quality of sleep. I favour the window, to avoid people bumping my arm in the aisle or asking to get out and use the bathroom, and use SeatGuru to make sure I’m in a row a decent distance away from the toilets and baby bassinets, which tend to be the noisiest areas (for obvious reasons!).
My all-time favourite economy seats are on the upper deck of an A380. A handful of airlines (including Qantas and Singapore Airlines) have a few rows of economy seats upstairs that are far more peaceful and generally receive quicker service than in the main cabin. Look for an upper cabin tab on the seat map when reserving your seats.
2. Turn that travel pillow around
Did you know that the best way to use a travel pillow is to flip it around to support your chin? There are all sorts of face cradles and foam travel pillows on the market at the moment that are trying to better protect traveller’s necks and provide a more comfortable rest in transit. (Did you see this thing with hands?).
Personally, I use whatever is on the plane, preferably up against the window, but I’ve read several blogs and reviews that say the Trtl Neck Pillow is the best travel pillow ever. It certainly looks more practical than some other options on Amazon!
3. Pack lavender scented products
Lavender scented products are known for their sleep-inducing benefits and I swear by This Works Sleep Balm, which I rub onto pulse points when I want to relax/ hopefully drift off. They also have a roller ball option.
Lots of people rave about the sleep-inducing benefits of Lush Sleepy hand and body lotion, which you can decant into a travel sized bottle and rub on exposed skin.
Another favourite of mine is This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which you can spritz on your travel pillow or scarf, and comes in particularly handy if the cabin gets a bit stinky after meals.
4. Download a meditation app
A white noise playlist is also a great way to block out aircraft noise with more soothing sounds.
5. Lean back
My back knows from experience that flopping forward and sleeping on the meal tray is going to hurt the next day. Professionals advise that leaning back with legs uncrossed is the best position for your back when it comes to sleeping on flights.
6. Lay off the coffee
Caffeine can take up to 6 hours to filter through our systems so lay off the coffee in the airport if you want to nod off on the flight.
Booze (both on and off the plane) is also best avoided if you want a better quality of sleep.
7. Try natural supplements
Personally, I’m not a fan of taking anything that could make me less alert in an emergency so rather than taking sleeping pills I travel with melatonin and magnesium supplements that are helpful for relaxation and combating muscle stiffness instead.
8. Do not disturb
Ever finally drifted off on a flight only to get woken by the meal service? (This happened twice on my overnight flight back from India – I woke to find a tikka roll in my face and wasn’t happy.) If you’ve got a friendly seat mate or helpful cabin crew, let them know you plan to sleep through the meal service.
Some airlines even have do not disturb stickers you can pop on your head rest. (Emirates are well known for doing this.) Check your seat pocket or amenity pack when you board the aircraft.
9. Buckle over your blanket
Finally, don’t forget to pop your seat belt on over your blanket – that way if there’s any turbulence or its time to land, you won’t be abruptly awoken by someone gesticulating at your waist.
Have any other foolproof tips for sleeping on flights? Let me know in the comments.
This article contains some affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission. Read disclaimer for details.
Featured image thanks to Dan Gold