How to Actually Sleep on an Airplane

woman sleeping on plane

How to Actually Sleep on an Airplane

Tips for getting some quality sleep, even on an airplane.

Sleeping on an airplane can be very difficult, but can be extremely important in order to combat jet lag. Sleeping may also prove to be important, especially on long haul flights, mostly to pass some time!

I remember one time on an overnight flight to London, we sat in front of a 3 year old who screamed the entire flight, while kicking the back of my seat. Boy, did I wishl I knew some of these tricks!

With these tips, you will find sleeping on an airple to be much easier than you thought, and you will learn exactly how to actually sleep on an airplane!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Choose the Right Seat

people sitting inside airplane

Choosing the right seat is super important to actually sleeping on an airplane! This can be subjective though, as everyone seems to have a different preference of where they like to sit on an airplane. 

I suggest either the aisle seat, or the window seat. Let’s face it, the middle seat is just no good.

The aisle seat is good if you know you will want to get up frequently, as you won’t need to disturb anyone when you get up.

The window seat is good to prop your pillow against the window, giving you different sleeping positions. In the end, it’s up to you!

You might want to talk to the travel attendant at the flight desk prior to boarding.

Sometimes there might be empty rows, or seats with empty seats next to them. These are always good to snag up if you can!

No matter how long your flight is, choosing a good seat is key to a successful flight. Read more about dealing with long flights here! 

Be prepared with the right products

If you want to actually sleep on an airplane, you are going to need some things. 

The most important things to have are (click for more info):

These four products are sure to allow you to get some quality sleep, even in a cramped airplane, or at least make you a bit more comfortable and relaxed. 

If you are feeling really ambitious, get some compression socks to keep your feet from falling asleep, and bring your own packable blanket to feel right at home!

Comfort is key here, so don’t worry about looking ridiculous. Chances are, your fellow passengers are going to be jealous of your get-up!


Stick to Routines

toothpaste being put on yellow toothbrush

Try to stick to your normal bedtime routine. Follow as many of the same bedtime rituals as you would normally do at home.

Pack a personal pouch and use the airport or airplane bathroom to freshen up and complete your nighttime routine.

If you typically wash your face, brush your teeth, and take meds before bedtime, it should be no different just because you are on a plane!

In fact, your skin will dry out easier while in an airplane, so make sure you continue to moisturize. 

Following routines will help your body recognize it is time to wind down and get ready for rest.

Additionally, you will feel more refreshed and like yourself when following your personal routines.

This will most likely be the last thing you will want to do at an airport, but it is so important! While waiting for your flight, try not to sit as much as possible. Instead, do some light stretching, take a few laps, peruse the gift shops, anything that keeps your body moving. 

Here are some great exercises you can do, even on the plane! Don’t worry about looking silly- you will never see these people again!

Getting your body moving will exhaust your muscles and entice them to want to relax. The last thing you want is feeling restless on the airplane. Get your movement out while you can!

We did some of these movements before our overnight flight to Paris, and boy were we thankful!

Eat a balanced meal

Finding healthy food at an airport can be a struggle, but try your best to find something somewhat healthy, yet filling.

Think grilled chicken salad, a yogurt parfait if it is the morning, or a fresh fruit smoothie. Check out this website for some more suggestions.  

You want to eat something that will fill you up so you are not hungry one hour into the flight, but also something that will not make you feel sluggish and bloated. Stick to what you know works with your body, and don’t be too adventurous. Wait until you get to your destination before trying some new foods. No one wants tummy troubles on an airplane!


woman with sliced cucumbers on eyes

take it easy, and just relax! If your body isn’t ready to sleep yet, that is ok! Take it easy, give yourself some grace. Sleeping on a plane is hard! 

Take a half hour and read a book, watch some television, or listen to music. Then when you’re feeling ready, try sleeping again. 

Relax, take deep breaths. You will fall asleep at some point, try not to worry so much about it, it will only make things worse! 

Here is a great guide to self care on an airplane!



Thank you for reading tips for actually sleeping on an airplane! If you have any additional tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below! Travelers need all the help they can get when it comes to sleeping on an airplane, so feel free to leave even your craziest advice and tips!

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    About the Author


    My name is Erica Sailor and I am the creator and developer of My World Sights! I love traveling the world with my husband and sharing what we learn along the way! Read More

    Erica Sailor