Some of us were born with the super power of being able to sleep anywhere, including on a plane while curled up in economy class like a pretzel. 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 potions frequent flyers swear by.*
How to Sleep on a Plane in Economy Class
8 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.
My all-time favourite economy seats are on the upper deck of an A380. A handful of airlines have a few rows of economy seats upstairs that are far more peaceful. Look for a 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. (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 chicer than some others 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 handy if the cabin gets a bit stinky after meals.
4. Download a meditation app
Switch off your brain using meditation or deep breathing exercises. There are several apps you can download before you fly including Calm and Headspace. 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. I’m not a fan of sleeping pills personally but my husband finds melatonin and magnesium supplements helpful for relaxation.
7. 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 seat. (Emirates reportedly do although I haven’t come across any on my trips.)
8. 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 rudely awoken by someone gesticulating at your waist.
Have any other foolproof tips for sleeping on flights? Let me know in the comments.
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Featured image thanks to Dan Gold