7 Tips for Getting Better Sleep while Flying

This guest blog post was curated for Bucky by Scott Mathews.

If you’ve been on a long flight, you probably know the challenges of sleeping on planes. Noise from video games, screaming children, lack of enough legroom space and sunlight pouring from the window are some of the common issues that make sleeping impossible.

Closing your eyes and getting some rest on a plane is not easy. However, it is not impossible. You can make a few changes in your habits that will enhance your sleep quality and quantity when you fly again.

Today, we are going to discuss the seven must-know tips for pleasant sleeping on planes. After reading this article, you’ll find it easier to sleep on a plane. Let’s get started!

1. Choose your seat

Where you seat on a plane is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to comfort and sleep. The location of your seat will determine the quality and quantity of sleep you are going to have. To get the best seat, you have to start making plans as early as possible.

You should always go for the window seat when you can. Having a place to lean on while sleeping will help you sleep better as compared to the other rows which might make you lean on the folks around you. Plus, your sleep will not be interrupted by people who scramble to use the bathroom and you’ll have a degree of control over the window shade.

You should think about the exit row seats. They usually have enough legroom space however, some of them do not recline to eliminate obstruction in case of emergency. Others have armrests that cannot be adjusted. Sleeping in such a seat will be impossible especially if the entire row or the next seat is empty.

Australian Writings advises people to avoid the bulkhead seats since they are usually reserved for families with babies. And as you know, babies or young children can be noisy.

You should also avoid the last row of the plane because the seats might not recline and they are usually located near the lavatories where odor and noise can be an issue. The rear seats can be noisy due to the engines and noise from the galley however, you are likely to have a couple of seats to yourself. If space is your priority, the noise should not be an issue for you.

2. Carry what you need

Cutting down your carry-ons will be convenient for you not only while sleeping on the plane but also transporting them when you arrive at your destination. Instead of packing everything that pops up in your mind, pack light so that you end up carrying only one bag.

To avoid carrying what you won’t use while traveling, create a list of everything you’ll need and arrange them in order of priority. In most cases, you’ll find that you only need to carry about 20% of the items on your list.

You should keep the necessities such as snacks, a bottle of water and a book near the top of your bag for your convenience. Before stowing your bag in the overhead compartment, you should pull out the items you’ll need during the flight and organize them in the seat pocket of the seat in front of you.

Some of the items that you can put in the seat pocket include a cell phone and eyeglasses. Your items should not exceed the maximum weight limit of the seat to avoid blocking people when evacuating from their seats. If the flight attendant asks you to put back some of your items into your bag, you should do so to avoid problems.

3. Avoid caffeine

You should avoid coffee, tea or soda before boarding the plane. To improve the quality of your sleep, stick to juice and water. Caffeine will make it much harder for you to sleep even if you find the best seat.

4. Use a sleeping aid

If you usually have problems sleeping at night, you should consult your physician as soon as possible. Sleep is necessary for your physical and mental health.

If you don’t have enough time to consult your physician before you travel, you can go for over the counter drugs such as Dramamine (prevents motion sickness), Melatonin (promotes sleep by preventing jet lag) or an antihistamine which contains diphenhydramine.  Medicines for insomnia such as Unisom can also help you.

Remember to test medicine you’ve never ingested a couple of nights before the flight since medicines have different effects on people. You should also keep in mind that sleeping aids have side effects such as hallucinations, memory loss and sleep eating to name a few.

5. Carry your blankets and pillows

In most planes, there are never enough pillows and blankets for everyone. Therefore, you need to board early and claim your share. If you don’t find a set in your seat, ask the flight attendant.

If you don’t want to deal with such cases, bring your own. While you might get a blanket on the plane, you should keep in mind most airlines use them a couple of times before washing them. Having a travel blanket will save you a lot of time and energy.

6. Don’t forget your neck pillow

If you travel most of the time, then you should have a neck pillow at home. In most cases, I’ve found that most neck pillows don’t work the way they are supposed to. They are usually too big in the back which makes the head tilt forward with no support under the chin.

If you are a back, side or stomach sleeper, you should go for a neck pillow that helps you mimic your sleeping style.

7. Free your feet

This subject depends on your preferences entirely. Some people remove their shoes once they get on a plane while others never dream of doing it. Also, you have to consider keeping your circulation flowing at all times.

Going barefoot might lead to swollen feet. You should always wear clean socks. If possible, go for shoes that you can slip on and off when you want. Before a long flight, consider buying compression socks to enhance blood circulation.

Additional Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality

  • Eliminate distractions - If you want to sleep on a plane, you should notify the flight attendant to avoid disrupting your sleep every time a snack or drink cart comes around. If you’ll be using a blanket, ensure that you’ve bucked your seat belt over the top and it’s visible every single time.
  • Dress appropriately - Will the flight be cold or hot? It might be impossible to predict however; you should avoid wearing tight clothes because they might end up restricting your circulation. You should also consider bringing your pajamas because you’ll find it easier falling asleep in them than your official clothes.
  • Recline your seat and be considerate - Expecting someone not to sleep at night is like asking him or her to put down the window shade when flying over the Grand Canyon. Everyone knows that people will have to recline their seats while sleeping. However, it’s important to look behind and ensure everything is fine before pushing the recline button. Doing this will help you avoid pouring someone’s coffee or injuries in case he or she has his or her head on the tray table.
  • Avoid the lights - Cabin lights, movie screens, and sunlight can disrupt your sleep. Consider getting a mask for your eyes. While you might find them on some planes; you should always carry one to be on the safe side.

Waking up…

Most people dread waking up. It’s worse on a plane because you’ll be waking up to luggage carousels, lights, and sunshine. According to aussie writer, it’s important to set an alarm forty-five minutes before the landing time so that you can prepare yourself adequately, have something to eat and walk off fully awake and happy.


Sleeping on a plane is never easy. However, with the tips discussed above, everything should be easy for you. Start using these tips today to enhance the quality and quantity of your sleep while traveling.



Scott Matthews is an experienced writer and editor for uk dissertation and expert writers. He loves sharing his thoughts and insights on sleep, health and fitness on Assignment Geek regularly. During his free time, you’ll find him playing with his dog or reading a book on the beach. 


*Bucky does not endorse any products or practices suggested by guest bloggers. All ideas and opinions are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Bucky.

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