Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Sleep On An Airplane


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Junina Logsdon



Sleeping on an airplane can be a challenging endeavor, especially during long flights or overnight journeys. The cramped seats, unfamiliar surroundings, and constant noise can make it difficult to relax and get some much-needed rest. However, with the right preparation and essential travel accessories, you can improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep or at least some quality rest during your flight.


When it comes to sleeping on an airplane, comfort is key. Choosing the right seat, dressing for comfort, and bringing the essential travel accessories can greatly enhance your chances of getting some shut-eye during your flight. Additionally, adjusting your sleeping position, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and utilizing sleep aids and techniques can also contribute to a more restful experience in the air. Staying hydrated, stretching and moving around, and dealing with noise and distractions are also important factors to consider when trying to get a good night’s sleep on an airplane.


In this article, we will explore various strategies and methods to help you sleep better while traveling by plane. Whether you are embarking on a long-haul international flight or a short domestic journey, these tips and techniques will help you maximize comfort and ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and well-rested.


Choosing the Right Seat

One of the most important factors in getting a comfortable sleep on an airplane is selecting the right seat. While it may not always be possible, here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing your seat:

  1. Opt for a window seat: A window seat provides a wall to lean against, giving you something to rest your head on and providing a sense of privacy. It also allows you to control the amount of light that enters your space.
  2. Avoid seats near high-traffic areas: Seats near the galley or the lavatories can be noisy and disruptive. Try to choose a seat away from these areas to minimize disturbances.
  3. Consider seats with extra legroom: Seats with extra legroom, such as exit row seats or bulkhead seats, can provide more space for stretching out and getting comfortable. However, be aware that some bulkhead seats might not have under-seat storage.
  4. Check seat reviews: Before selecting your seat, look up reviews or seat maps for your specific flight or aircraft. This can give you insights into the best seats on the plane, such as those with more recline or better cushioning.

Keep in mind that seat selection may have additional costs or limitations, depending on the airline and your ticket type. It’s always best to check with the airline’s policies and restrictions before making your seat selection.


By choosing the right seat, you can set the foundation for a more comfortable sleep on the airplane. Remember to book your seat as early as possible to increase your chances of getting your preferred spot.


Dressing Comfortably

When it comes to sleeping on an airplane, dressing in comfortable clothing can make a significant difference in your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips for dressing comfortably during your flight:

  1. Wear loose-fitting clothing: Opt for clothing made from breathable and stretchy materials that allow for ease of movement. Avoid tight or constricting clothes that may restrict blood flow or cause discomfort during the flight.
  2. Dress in layers: Airplane cabins can vary in temperature, so it’s important to be prepared for fluctuations. Layer your clothing so that you can easily add or remove a layer as needed.
  3. Choose comfortable footwear: Opt for slip-on shoes or sneakers that are easy to take off and put on. This will not only allow for more comfort during the flight but also make it easier to move around the cabin or use the lavatory.
  4. Wear a cozy pair of socks: Keeping your feet warm can contribute to overall comfort and relaxation. Pack a pair of soft and warm socks to slip on during the flight.

Additionally, consider packing an extra set of comfortable clothes in your carry-on bag, especially if you have a long layover or connecting flight. Being able to change into fresh clothes can help you feel refreshed and more comfortable during your journey.


Remember, the goal is to create a comfortable and relaxing environment for sleep. By dressing in comfortable and breathable clothing, you can enhance your comfort level and increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s rest on the airplane.


Bringing the Essential Travel Accessories

When it comes to sleeping on an airplane, having the right travel accessories can greatly enhance your comfort and quality of sleep. Here are some essential travel accessories to consider packing for your flight:

  1. Travel pillow: A good travel pillow is a must-have for getting comfortable and supporting your neck and head while sleeping. Choose a pillow that suits your preferred sleep position, whether it’s a neck pillow, a U-shaped pillow, or an inflatable pillow.
  2. Eye mask: An eye mask can help block out light and create a darker environment, promoting better sleep. Look for one that is soft and contoured to your face for maximum comfort.
  3. Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones: Sleeping on an airplane can be challenging due to the noise from the engines, passengers, and crew. Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help block out unwanted noise and create a more serene sleeping environment.
  4. Blanket or travel wrap: Airplane cabins can get chilly, so having a travel blanket or wrap can provide warmth and comfort. Look for lightweight and compact options that are easy to carry.
  5. Compression socks: Long flights can increase the risk of blood clots and swelling in the legs. Wearing compression socks can improve circulation and reduce discomfort during the flight.
  6. Travel sleep kit: Consider purchasing a travel sleep kit, which often includes a combination of accessories like a pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and a blanket. These kits are specifically designed for travelers and can provide convenience and comfort.

Remember to pack these essential travel accessories in your carry-on bag for easy access during the flight. Having these items readily available will help create a cozy and sleep-friendly environment, increasing your chances of getting a restful sleep on the airplane.


Adjusting Your Sleeping Position

Adjusting your sleeping position is crucial for finding comfort and getting a good night’s sleep on an airplane. While the space may be limited, there are a few strategies you can try to find a position that works for you:

  1. Recline your seat: If your seat allows, reclining it slightly can help you find a more relaxed position. However, be considerate of the passengers behind you and avoid reclining all the way, as it can reduce the space for the person seated behind you.
  2. Use a cushion or blanket as lumbar support: If the seat doesn’t provide adequate lumbar support, you can use a small cushion or roll up a blanket and place it behind your lower back to provide extra support and maintain a comfortable posture.
  3. Elevate your legs: Improving circulation and reducing swelling can be achieved by elevating your legs slightly. You can use a travel pillow or a blanket to prop up your legs, or take advantage of the footrest if your seat has one.
  4. Find alternative sleeping positions: If sleeping upright is difficult for you, try finding a more relaxed position by leaning against the window or using a neck pillow to support your head. Some travelers are also comfortable leaning forward on their tray tables, keeping in mind the space restrictions and avoiding disturbing the person in front of you.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust your position as needed. It’s also helpful to try different positions during the flight to find what works best for you.


Keep in mind that finding the perfect sleeping position on an airplane may require some experimentation and adaptation. Be patient and willing to try different approaches until you find the position that allows you to get the most restful sleep possible.


Creating a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Creating a comfortable sleeping environment can significantly improve your chances of getting a restful sleep on an airplane. While you may not have complete control over the cabin conditions, there are several steps you can take to optimize your sleep environment:

  1. Dim the light: Use your eye mask or ask the flight attendants to dim the cabin lights to create a darker atmosphere. Darkness signals your body that it’s time to sleep and can help you achieve a more restful state.
  2. Control the temperature: Adjust the air vents or use your travel blanket to regulate your body temperature. It’s important to find a comfortable temperature that suits your preferences to promote better sleep.
  3. Use a sleep-inducing scent: Essential oils such as lavender can have a calming effect and promote relaxation. Place a few drops on a handkerchief or use a travel-sized aromatherapy diffuser to create a soothing atmosphere.
  4. Create a cozy space: Utilize your travel pillow, blanket, and any other accessories to create a cozy nook where you can relax and unwind. Arrange the pillows and blankets to find the most comfortable setup for you.
  5. Minimize distractions: Use noise-canceling headphones or play white noise or calming music to drown out any disruptive sounds. You can also consider using a privacy divider or pulling down your window shade to create a more secluded space.

By taking these steps, you can transform your seat into a more serene and sleep-friendly environment. Each person’s preferences may vary, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.


Remember, the goal is to create a calming atmosphere that signals sleep to your body and minimizes distractions that may disrupt your rest. Taking control of your surroundings can greatly improve your overall sleep quality on an airplane.


Utilizing Sleep Aids and Techniques

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep on an airplane, utilizing sleep aids and techniques can be highly beneficial. Here are some strategies to help you relax and fall asleep during your flight:

  1. Melatonin supplements: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Taking melatonin supplements can help reset your body’s internal clock and promote sleep. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any sleep aids.
  2. Deep breathing exercises: Practicing deep breathing exercises can help calm your mind and relax your body. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this pattern several times to promote relaxation.
  3. Meditation: Engaging in mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Focus on your breath or use guided meditation apps to guide you through the process.
  4. Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then releasing each muscle group in your body, starting from your feet and moving upward. By consciously relaxing your muscles, you can promote relaxation and prepare your body for sleep.
  5. Avoid caffeine and stimulants: It is advisable to avoid consuming caffeine and other stimulating substances before and during your flight, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  6. Limit screen time: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your sleep. Try to limit screen time before bed or use blue-light-blocking glasses to minimize its impact.

Remember, the goal is to relax your body and mind to ease into sleep. Experiment with different sleep aids and techniques to find what works best for you. However, it’s essential to follow any instructions and guidelines provided by healthcare professionals.


Utilizing sleep aids and techniques can complement your efforts in creating a comfortable sleeping environment and increase your chances of getting a restful sleep on the airplane.


Staying Hydrated and Avoiding Stimulants

Staying hydrated and avoiding stimulants are important factors to consider when trying to get a good night’s sleep on an airplane. Here are some tips to help you maintain hydration and reduce the consumption of stimulating substances:

  1. Drink plenty of water: Airplane cabins can be dry, and dehydration can contribute to discomfort and difficulty sleeping. Drink water regularly throughout the flight to stay hydrated. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle to refill during the journey.
  2. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages: Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and energy drinks can interfere with your sleep. These substances act as stimulants and can disrupt your body’s natural sleep patterns. Opt for herbal tea or water instead.
  3. Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods: Consuming sugary and processed foods can lead to energy spikes and crashes, making it harder to relax and fall asleep. Choose healthy snacks like fresh fruits, nuts, or granola bars to keep your energy levels stable.
  4. Be mindful of medications and supplements: Some medications and supplements can cause sleep disturbances or interact with other substances. Consult with your healthcare provider before your flight to understand the impact they may have on your sleep.
  5. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime: Eating a heavy meal before sleep can lead to discomfort and indigestion. Opt for a lighter meal or snack before attempting to sleep on the airplane.

By staying properly hydrated and avoiding stimulants, you can create a more conducive environment for sleep. Hydration and mindful food choices can contribute to your overall well-being and improve your chances of getting a restful sleep on the airplane.


Stretching and Moving Around

Stretching and moving around are essential for promoting blood circulation and preventing stiffness during long flights. Incorporating regular movement breaks can also help reduce the risk of developing blood clots in the legs. Here are some tips for stretching and staying active on an airplane:

  1. Take regular walks in the aisle: Whenever possible, get up and walk in the aisle of the airplane. Walking not only helps stretch your legs but also provides an opportunity to move and alleviate any discomfort caused by being seated for extended periods.
  2. Perform in-seat exercises: If getting up and walking is not feasible, you can still perform simple exercises while seated. Ankle rolls, leg lifts, and neck stretches are some examples of exercises that can improve circulation and relieve muscle tension.
  3. Use the airplane’s facilities: Take advantage of the in-flight facilities to stretch and move around. Visiting the restroom gives you the opportunity to stand, stretch your legs, and perform a few simple exercises in a slightly more spacious environment.
  4. Consider using a portable footrest: A portable footrest attaches to the seat in front of you and provides a platform to elevate your feet and stretch your legs. This can help alleviate discomfort and promote better circulation.

It’s important to note that you should always follow the guidance provided by the airline and crew members while moving around the cabin. Additionally, be mindful of other passengers and avoid blocking the aisles or causing inconvenience to others.


Making an effort to stretch and move around during your flight can help prevent stiffness, improve comfort, and contribute to better sleep on the airplane. Stay active and incorporate these exercises into your routine to maximize your travel experience.


Dealing with Noise and Distractions

Noise and distractions can make it challenging to sleep on an airplane. However, there are several strategies you can employ to minimize their impact and create a more peaceful environment for sleep. Here are some tips for dealing with noise and distractions:

  1. Use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs: Noise-canceling headphones can help block out the ambient noise on the plane, allowing you to focus on relaxing and falling asleep. Alternatively, using earplugs can minimize external noises and create a quieter atmosphere.
  2. Play soothing music or white noise: Listening to calming music or white noise can mask disruptive sounds and create a soothing background for sleep. Use a travel-sized speaker or headphones to enjoy your preferred audio.
  3. Position yourself away from noise sources: If possible, choose a seat away from potential sources of noise, such as engines, galley areas, or lavatories. This can reduce your exposure to disruptive sounds and increase your chances of a restful sleep.
  4. Use a sleep mask and cover your ears: In addition to noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, using a comfortable sleep mask can block out light and distractions, helping you create a more peaceful environment for sleep.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques: When faced with distractions, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to refocus your mind and calm your body. This can help you overcome external disturbances and facilitate better sleep.

It’s important to note that while these strategies can minimize the impact of noise and distractions, complete silence may not always be possible on an airplane. It’s helpful to manage your expectations and focus on creating a peaceful and restful atmosphere within the limits of the aircraft environment.


By implementing these techniques, you can effectively deal with noise and distractions during your flight and improve your overall sleep quality on the airplane.



Getting a good night’s sleep on an airplane may seem challenging, but with the right strategies and essential travel accessories, it is possible to achieve a restful and rejuvenating sleep during your journey. By choosing the right seat, dressing comfortably, and bringing the necessary travel accessories like a travel pillow, eye mask, and earplugs, you can enhance your comfort and create a conducive environment for sleep.


Adjusting your sleeping position, creating a comfortable sleeping environment by dimming the lights and controlling the temperature, and utilizing sleep aids and techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation can further improve your sleep quality. Staying hydrated, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and incorporating regular stretching and movement into your flight routine are also crucial for a comfortable and restful sleep experience.


Finally, managing noise and distractions with the use of noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, soothing music or white noise, and relaxation techniques can help create a peaceful environment for sleep. While complete silence may not be achievable, remember to focus on optimizing your personal comfort and relaxation within the limitations of the aircraft environment.


With these tips and techniques in mind, you can maximize your chances of getting a good night’s sleep on an airplane. By arriving at your destination feeling refreshed and well-rested, you’ll be ready to embark on your travel adventure or seamlessly transition into your work or vacation plans.