How to Sleep on a Plane [Article]

There was an interesting article posted on called “How to Get Beauty Sleep at 35,000 Feet“. As I’m always on the look out for hints and tips relating to travel I couldn’t resist reading this article. Some of what they talk about I agree and some I do not and some leaves me with some concerns.

The first thing they talk about is “Take Control”. Well this was an interesting heading since there is not much on a plane you can take control of! But I do agree that even though you can’t control the temperature, noise, etc there are some things you can do. I always dress in layers when I travel. This way I can maintain the control of my body temperature and make it more comfortable for me to travel and rest.

One great device I take with me is noise-reducing headphones. Now you can get the full headphone or the ear plugs and they work GREAT!! I love mine! It helps drown out a lot of the noise around me and puts me into my own little world. I typically don’t watch movies unless it is an international flight or a cross country flight (headphones I have come with airline adapter plugs too) during the day and it is a movie I want to see or one I have seen and want to see again. I typically plug in the headphones to my iPod and listen to music while I read or work on puzzles or snooze. My husband likes to zone out to Enya and my music of preference is Il Divo. If I need to sleep on the flight then I have the Hemi-Sync tracks like Catnapper, Sleeping Through the Rain, or Super Sleep  that help me drift off and wake refreshed.

We always travel with is our travel pillow/blanket combo. The travel blanket folds up and stores inside the pillow. It is awesome!! For my husband who is 6’5″ he loves it! He will take the window seat so he can lean against the bulkhead and sleep. The seats on the plane are not tall enough for him to be able to put his head back…even with the headrests that can be pulled up. The pillow is the perfect size to fit on his shoulder to give him the cushioning he needs between his head and the bulkhead without giving him a crick in his neck. The travel pillow/blanket combo comes with an eye mask…but I don’t really like the one that comes with it. I prefer an eye mask that doesn’t squish the eyes…I have one that is very comfortable and contours over the eyes allowing your open your eyes behind the mask and no squishing.

Next the article talks about leaning forward in your seat on the tray table and not back. Okay I have issues with this one…for one I am 5’5″ and my knees in economy on most planes are in the back of the seat in front of me not allowing much room to pull down the tray table. Add to that the height of the table and it is not very comfortable to lean forward and rest on the tray table. It also makes it very uncomfortable for the person in front of you as you “tug” on their seat by pushing down on the tray table and annoying them…and what if they have their seat reclined back? Guess you could always lean forward and use the top of their seat. How’s that for up close and personal! I can’t imagine what bending over for any period of time to lean on the tray table would do to your back and neck! I’m sure we have a chiropractor or two out there who would love to comment on the best way to sleep on a plane. Recline or lean forward?

If someone my height has issues with the recommended leaning forward then how do people taller than me get on with this? I know when hubby flies we have to fly first/business class just so he has the legroom. If I’m flying by myself then I’m cramped in economy class. There was an article not too long ago about the airlines making the legroom in economy even smaller and safety issues they could cause

When I want to sleep on a flight I prefer to put my seat back and recline, but I have an issue with lumber support and ending up with a sore lower back. If I have been provided with a airline pillow or asked for one, I place that in the small of my back to give some support my lower back region making it more comfortable for me. I know some airlines no longer provide pillows unless you are in first or business class. You could make your own or buy a small pillow to use just for that purpose.

The article then talks about packing your creature comforts. Make sure the travel pillow you use is right for you. We shared our favorite travel pillow, blanket and eye mask earlier. What are your favorite ones? Share them in the comments below. Another part of being comfortable that I like to do is to make sure my skin doesn’t dry out with the plane air. So I use a facial wipe like Ponds or Yes brands and clean my face with them. If in First/Business they give you the hot towels to do that with…mmmm!! I then put on a clear hydrating mask, some lip balm and eye cream and when I get to my destination I wash off the mask and apply my moisturizer and I’m ready to go again. This way I don’t have to worry about the air drying out my skin and producing more oil than it should. I also avoid any sugar, alcohol and caffeine foods or drinks. The sugar would just result in sugar rushes and drops; alcohol and caffeine dehydrate. One of the things you don’t want to do is dehydrate while flying. Good hydration while flying can help you with jetlag too.

The last thing they suggest is sleeping aids. I very leery of using sleeping aids like over-the-counter or prescription drugs that can affect your ability to operate with alertness should the need arise. If I do need to resort to any sleep aids I would only use them on an international flight and I prefer the natural ones with melatonin as they help me get to sleep if all other methods have failed, but if I need to wake up and be alert they don’t give me that tired drugged out buzz you get from a lot of prescription or over the counter meds.

We would love to hear what some of your favorite “rituals” that you have to help you sleep on a plane? We would love your suggestions as they may help someone else. Please leave your comments below.

About Helen Brahms

World globetrotter, Helen Brahms, is your Luxury Travel Concierge. She specializes in creating unique once-in-a-lifetime travel memories and charity fundraising trips. Whether your travel dreams include exotic locations or time with your family, you can have it all. Helen loves to help people cross destinations off their travel bucket list before they take a dirt nap! Helen is the host of the Have2Travel Radio Show ( and is the author of the book "Congratulations, You're Going On a Cruise! Now What?" and the co-author of the book "Passionistas Talk!: The Best of the Passion Point Interviews (Vol. 1)"
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