Top 10 tips for sleeping on a plane (even for the most nervous flyers!)

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Top 10 tips for sleeping on a plane (even for the most nervous flyers!)

Let’s get real here friends, sleeping on a plane can be a nightmare! Early flights, uncomfortable seats and noisy passengers all contribute to less than ideal sleeping conditions whilst flying.

But there are several small changes you can make that will make a big difference in helping you fall sleep and feel wonderfully rested when you arrive at your destination.

Here are my top 10 tips for sleeping on a plane (even for the most nervous flyers!).

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1) Book a night flight

My number one tip for sleeping on a plane is to book a night flight. It’s far easier to fall asleep when you’re already tired and your natural body clock kicks in to help you fall asleep.

This works especially well if you’re on opposite time zones to your destination so you’ll be awake and refreshed for the day upon arrival!

Plane taking off on a lit runway at night

2) Pick your seat strategically

Now you’ve booked a night flight, it’s time to pick the right seat. Even though most of us don’t have the luxury of buying a more comfortable seat in business class (I know I don’t! *sob*), you can choose certain seats in economy that will improve your chances of falling asleep.

The best seats for sleeping on a plane (in my experience anyway!) are in the front row of economy. There’s extra leg room so you can stretch your legs out AND get a bigger screen which is always a bonus!

Also any aisle seat at the back of the plane where there isn’t going to be a lot of people walking past. You’ll be able to stretch out and reduce the risk of someone nudging you awake as they pass by.

A lot of people love the window seat for sleeping as they can lean against the side of the plane. However, I’ve always found the window seat to be too restrictive and noisy when you rest your head against the wall as you can hear the plane engine roaring!

Inside a plane in the dark with two overhead lights over the two seats in front

3) Avoid any stimulants

As you would do at home, I recommend avoiding any stimulants that may hinder you falling asleep such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks and sugar a few hours before and during your flight. 

As boring as it sounds, try to stick to water and healthy snacks that won’t spike your blood sugar and thus keep you awake!

I always take my reusable water bottle so I can fill up in the airport just before the flight as well as some fruit and these delicious vegan trek bars to snack on.

Any water bottle will do but I use these super cute reusable water bottles by drinqright. The bottles are 400ml which means they will fit into even the smallest travel handbag and are so versatile.

They are the only travel bottles that exist which can give you both collapsibility and a removable base for storage. They’re also BPA-free silicone which is practical for both hot and cold drinks.

A gin and tonic and craft beer on a table with sunglasses and a British passport with a ryanair plane in the background

4) Block out the noise with noise-cancelling headphones

There’s so much noise on planes – trolleys rattling, the sound of the engine, staff announcements – you name it’s endless. But luckily we have the joy of fixing this with noise-cancelling headphones!

I must admit I resisted buying noise-cancelling head phones for the longest time – refusing to give in to the hype but more importantly…the expense!

But noise-cancelling headphones will be your new best friend on any flight you’re trying to sleep on. Once I gave in and tried a pair, I found that I couldn’t work or travel without them!

I use wireless Bose noise-cancelling headphones and I can’t recommend them enough. I initially invested in these headphones when I went backpacking around South East Asia and they’re still good-as-new all these years later!

These Bose headphones have 11 levels of active noise-cancelling which lets you enjoy music, podcasts, videos and calls without distraction and have the crispest sound of any headphones I’ve ever had.

Conveniently for travellers, they also have up to 20 hours of battery life and are wireless so you won’t get tangled up in wires as you sleep!

It can be daunting to buy more expensive headphones at first. But I promise that if you invest in a decent pair now you’ll have them for years to come and save yourself money in the long-run replacing cheaper less effective ones.

A hand holding a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones

5) Play relaxing music

Now you’ve got your noise-cancelling headphones sorted, all you need to do is prepare your sleepy playlist to help you nod off.

This will come down to personal preference whether it’s listening to your favourite songs, a podcast or white noise – it’s entirely up to you.

I prefer white noise to fall asleep to as I find that if I put music on I always end up humming and singing along!

If you want to give white noise a go my favourite playlists, include: wind pipes, rain and beach sounds – they’re just so relaxing to listen to and always help me drift off.

I just download a playlist from Spotify before I fly and I’m ready to go!

Woman lying back with her eyes closed in her plane seat with headphones on

6) Bring a memory foam travel pillow

I never used to be a big fan of travel pillows because I always found that they were too bulky to travel with and not all that comfortable.

But after trialling a LOT of travel pillows, I now swear by a memory foam travel pillow that clips at the front!

They mould to support your head and neck wherever you’re positioned and the clip at the front stops your head from bobbing forward when you’re asleep (which is one of my biggest bugbear’s when sleeping on a plane!).

Any memory foam pillow should do the trick but the Lakoor memory foam travel pillow is a great option as it has 360 support, a removable cover you can wash and is easily stored as it rolls right up.

Woman lying back with her eyes closed in her plane seat by a window wearing a travel pillow around her neck

7) Block out any light with an eye mask

A big problem with falling asleep on flights is the light. Cabin lights on night flights will generally stay off for the majority of the journey but there’s always that one annoying person that has the spotlight on above their seat for absolutely no reason!

So remove any chance of this disturbing your sleep by packing an eye mask in your cabin bag.

The Mavogel cotton eye mask is a really affordable option at only £7 on Amazon. It’s super soft on your face and has an adjustable strap and nose piece which blocks out any light around the bridge of your nose too!

Woman lying down wearing a blue sleeping mask over her eyes

8) Dress comfortably

I cannot emphasise this point enough. Even if I don’t plan to sleep on a flight I can’t bear to be uncomfortable when I travel!

To ensure you’re comfy enough to fall asleep on the plane I recommend avoiding jeans, anything tight fitting and uncomfortable shoes like heels.

Leggings, loose fitting tops and boots/trainers are the way forward! It may not be the most stylish way to travel but I’d rather be comfortable and actually sleep on a long-haul flight then be shuffling around in my seat trying to get comfortable enough to doze off!

A woman at the airport wearing a long grey top, glasses, black leggings and trainers pulling a black suitcase and holding a passport

9) Travel with a partner or buddy

I know this isn’t always possible, but it really helps to travel with someone else you can feel guilty-free for falling asleep on! I can actually hear the sound of my boyfriend’s eyebrows raising as I type this – but it’s true! 😂

There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep on a plane whilst you’re trying not to invade a stranger’s space at the same time.

Plus the additional paranoia of waking up on them drooling or snoring can put you off going to sleep altogether! So if you can, pack your best friend or partner on your trip so you can both lean on each other for a decent sleep on the flight.

On snoring though, if you get a stuffy nose or suffer with allergies when flying (like I do!), I swear by Vicks Nasal Spray.

It’s only £3 on Amazon and clears your airways instantly. It’s a lifesaver for me when travelling in the summer time!

A couple taking a selfie on La Mer beach in Dubai wearing sunglasses

10) Pack removable warm layers

Just like at home, you have to be at the right temperature to go to sleep. Not too hot or too cold – just like a little travelling Goldilocks!

Having said this though, I’ve always found planes to be super cold and there always seems to be that one air nozzle that just won’t shut and stop blasting cold air over you!

To prepare for this (no matter what the length of the flight is) I always bring my favourite blanket scarf and an extra pair of thick socks (these fluffy ones are super cute!).

By bringing layers you always have the option to add or remove them depending on the temperature of the plane so you’re prepared no matter what!

A woman holding a grey blanket around her holding it with her hands

I hope these top tips for sleeping on a plane will be helpful for your next trip!

Do you have any tricks that help you fall asleep on long-haul flights? Let me know in the comments below! 😊

Quick FYI guys – this post contains affiliate links to various products. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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