Many moons ago, when I first started traveling I was a terrible sleeper on flights. I thought the best way to sleep on a plane was to get bladdered at the airport lounge and sleep it off! Not the greatest of ideas for obvious reasons, oh to be young and naive.
When I started fleeing further from the nest in my travels, on long haul flights to Asia and Australia, I prepared myself more mentally the 12- 14-hour flights ahead of me.
I have come up with a few ways to ensure sleeping on an airplane will make your journey a hell of a lot shorter, more comfortable and leave you feeling fresh as a daisy when you arrive at your latest adventure!
Choosing the right seat
Choosing the right seat for your flight is something you should look at before you set off on your travels. I am 6ft 4″ so I always tend to pay for extra legroom. There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting on a Heathrow to Bangkok flight for 12 hours with your knees around your ears. Saying that though, long haul schedule flights do have a better pitch size than commercial flights.
Obviously, if you can afford to go business class or first class on an airline this will seriously increase your chances of getting a decent sleep on an airplane. For a high percentage of us though that is not an option due to cost. Although it is a luxurious and comfortable way to travel, it certainly in not cheap. I would rather spend my money on my adventures abroad. Unless I won the lottery of course!
Bulkhead seats are a good option for finding yourself with more legroom. The only drawbacks though are that on a lot of bulkhead seats, you will find they may not recline. The second reason is that if you are flying alone, families with small children tend to book the bulkhead seats. Great if your a family, but not for a traveler without kids want a good few hours shut-eye.
One thing I never ever do when I choose my seat is to sit near the toilets. Sitting near a toilet when you are trying to sleep can be noisy. People queuing up to empty their bladders or just to stretch the old legs, having a good natter, can keep you from getting a good sleep. I tend to aim for the middle of each section and if the legroom is ample a window seat.
Window seats give you a ‘corner ‘ as it is. Somewhere to lean-to and snuggle into. Using blankets and good quality neck and head pillows of which I will come on to in more detail later, are also great tools to make sure you get your beauty sleep.
To get the very best sleep on an airplane, a reclining chair is always a plus. But always remember to be courteous when reclining, especially when people are eating their in-flight meal on their pull-down tray. But you will find 99% of people will try to sleep on a long night flight. The straighter you back is, the more comfortable you will have. This is a natural sleeping position and will give you a better sleep.
Take your own blankets
When you first board your flight, try to grab a member of the cabin crew and ask for a blanket or pillow. They are normally in high demand, and short supply on flights, especially night flights so try to get in with an early request. You can take your own lightweight blankets if you have the room in your luggage.
One thing you must do if you do not want to be disturbed is to buckle you belt OVER you blanket. This will stop cabin crew wakening you to check your belt is fastened if you do come across a bit of turbulence. You could also in advance tell the person next to you or a member of the cabin crew that you don’t want food when you will find they may not come round with meals. This again will stop anyone waking you.
What to drink and what not to drink!
The first thing to avoid is coffee! It is very tempting having a large Starbucks cappuccino in the airport, but for very obvious reasons coffee contains caffeine. Try to opt for a herbal tea. Herbal tea has relaxant qualities and will help you sleep.
As I said earlier, I used to have a good drink before boarding and a glass or 5 of wine on the flight. This can work in your favor and against you too. First and foremost being drunk on boarding an airplane or on the flight is self is not good practice. Yes, having a few cheeky drinks will make you sleepy but will only give you a couple of hours non responsive sleep. Drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated for a much better snoozing session.
Eating a big meal before boarding or on the flight (not that I have ever had a big meal on a flight!) will play with your digestive system. Bad digestion after a big meal is definitely not good If you are looking to get a few hours sleep. Try to eat light, and little and often of you are hungry.
Sleeping accessories you must take for a great sleep!
There are so many accessories out there that will make your journey, and chances of getting a good long refreshing sleep on board your flight more comfortable and bearable.
A good neck support pillow is one of the best inventions ever for sleeping on an airplane! I swear by mine and never travel on a long haul flight without it. I have recently purchased this luxsure Memory Foam Neck Pillow from Amazon for my recent flight to Dubai. So comfortable and managed to get myself a really good sleep without a cricked neck! The reason I love the memory foam neck and head rest are due to the support you will find they may not will give you. I tend to find the soft cushion supports don’t give you the support and comfort the memory foam ones do. Worth paying a little more in my opinion.
If you are on a night flight you will find may not cabin lights are turned off to help people sleep. This is great if you are not sitting near people who are’the overhead great sleepers and like to use the overhead reading lights. A great way of giving you complete darkness is using a travel sleep mask or a blindfold. You can pick up a decent travel sleep mask for around £5 ($7) and you will find they may not really do enhance your sleeping experience. You can also pick up earplugs for very little to keep surrounding noise down to a minimum.
My big tip here is one I use at home a great deal. Before you travel and are taking you your smartphoneor tablet, make sure you sign up for Amazon’s Audible, if you have Amazon prime you may already have this service. It is amazing for downloading audible books. This is a great way to nod off and especially the relaxation and sleep meditation books you can download, to send you peacefully into an amazing refreshing sleep. My favorite is the rain and thunder sounds, so relaxing. If you are already signed up to Amazon prime you will receive a free credit for any book once a month.
Listening to soothing music can also help you sleep, so make sure you download your favorite tunes to Spotify or Google Play before you fly.
Medical sleeping aids
Now, before I go on, I am certainly no doctor so please consult your doctor before you go taking and pills or sleep remedies. If you are not a great sleeper, like myself, sleeping tablets are a great idea to give you a good lengthy sleep, but agian consult you doctor and he or she will advise you on what the best pills or remedies to take are.
Melatonin, which is a chronobiotic is one medication that will do the job. There are many natural remedies that will help you relax, well worth doing your research on. As I mentioned earlier in this post, herbal tea is a great relaxant.
I hope I have given you some great ideas on getting that good nights kip on a long journey. If you do manage to get a lengthy sleep on your flight, you will feel amazing and ready to take on your travels when you land with zest and energy. Make sure you change your watch to the local timezone you are traveling to, and try not to clock watch on your journey.
Please feel free to add any more tips you have for better sleep on a flight below. Any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org