Tips for Falling Asleep on a Plane

While it's not easy for everyone, it is possible to catch some Zs in the friendly skies

Credit: Flickr/olaerik

Set yourself up for a successful sleep the next time you’re on a plane

Struggling to fall asleep on a plane? These helpful tips will have you snoozing before the plane leaves the runway

Whether it’s a long-haul flight or a red eye, sleeping on a flight can be a great way to combat boredom and fight jet lag. But, sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can be a challenge for many people, and sleeping in a crowded and sometimes noisy environment is impossible at times.

With a little preparation ahead of time you can set yourself up for a refreshing in-flight snooze.

How to Fall Asleep on a Plane

  • Clothing: Uncomfortable fluctuating temperatures onboard can often prevent you from falling asleep. I recommend you wear loose-fitting, light layers to the airport. Choose pants with a relaxed fit and a comfortable shirt with a zip-up sweatshirt or cardigan sweater.
  • Socks: Wear socks and slip-on shoes. Once you’re in your seat, you can slip off your shoes and let your feet breathe.
  • Hunger: For me, sleeping when I’m hungry is nearly impossible. Make sure that you eat just before you get on board. A small meal or snack will satisfy you without making you feel bloated.
  • Pillows: Pack an inflatable pillow in your carry-on bag. Choose the type that can be blown up with just a few breaths and has a soft cover. A U-shaped pillow that wraps around your neck is the best choice because it can fully support your head. Waking up on your neighbor’s shoulder or getting bumped into by someone walking through the aisle doesn’t make for the best sleep.
  • Blanket: Bring a light blanket or pashmina – even draping a sweatshirt over your body will do. Be sure to buckle your seat belt on top of your blanket so the flight attendant won’t have to wake you up to check that it’s fastened.
  • Earplugs: Put in some earplugs or use noise-cancelling headphones. It’s a great idea to download some soothing songs, sounds or white noise tracks to your iPod. If light bothers you, an eye mask is a great option.
  • Medication: Herbal or homeopathic sleep aides are worth a try. I really don’t recommend taking anything stronger. There are plenty of horror stories when medication and flights mix, as you never really know how your body will be affected. Instead, focus on taking slow, deep breaths.

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Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.