Skip to main content

5 Tips to Sleep Well on a Plane

< Back to the article list

Even though some of us travel because we love the thrill of discovering a new place, and others travel because our work depends on it, one thing we can probably all agree on is that trying to sleep on an airplane can be . . . tough. From seat mates who take up more room than they should, to people who recline way too far, to the often cold, recycled air blowing on us the whole way, getting comfortable on an airplane can sometimes feel like a Herculean task.

Luckily, there are ways to do it, and yes, you can even catch some Zzz’s while you’re at it! Read on for a few of the best ways to sleep on a plane.

How to Sleep on a Plane

Keep up a good exercise routine

Any kind of exercise routine — from cardio, to strength training, to yoga — can help you get better sleep. If your flight is an overnight one, you’ll want all the help you can get staying on your regular sleep schedule while up in the air, and exercise can help!

Have the right products on hand

A neck pillow, travel blanket, and eye mask will all help you get comfortable, even if you’re crammed in a middle seat. If you’re traveling with a slight cold or dealing with allergies, bring some Breathe Right Nasal Strips in your carry-on. Breathe Right Strips instantly open your nose — no drugs involved — to provide relief from nasal congestion. Typically, cabin lights are dimmed during overnight flights, so there’s no need to worry about your seat mates noticing your strips. Although if they do, have a few extra just in case they too want to feel the joy of congestion relief!

Try a sleepytime supplement

If you need a nod-off nudge, consider melatonin or magnesium supplements. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that magnesium may help with sleep and relaxation (although the studies showing its effectiveness is small), and melatonin may help ease jet lag. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying a new supplement, however, and keep in mind that supplements have the potential to interact with medication.

Sip tea, not soda or booze

While it may be tempting to order a cola or cocktail at 30,000 feet, you’re going to want to save that for when you’re on the ground. Sugar can disrupt your sleep cycle (and leave you with a lowered quality of sleep), and alcohol does the same. Instead, ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water, and pack your own caffeine-free tea in your carry-on.

Upgrade your seat

If you can spring for it, try getting a bulkhead, emergency exit, or at the very least, an aisle seat. The more space and fewer disruptions you have, the more likely you’ll be to catch a few winks. If you’ve got even more wiggle room with your budget (or frequent flier miles), try upgrading to business or first class so you can lay flat or recline with lots of space to get cozy.

Related articles