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4 Ways to get Quality Sleep on Airplanes

  • Travel Team
Mar 27, 2013

(Image source.)

One of the keys to preventing jet lag is to get some sleep during the flight to your destination, but that's easier said than done. It takes a lot to get comfortable enough to fall asleep while in the air, but the refreshing feeling you'll get afterwards - as well as the ability to hit the ground running in your destination - is well worth it.

Here are a few tips to get some shut eye during a long flight:

1. Start with the basics

Planning to get quality sleep on a flight starts at the beginning of the travel process. Choosing a flight that works best with your sleep schedule can go a long way in making sure you get some shut eye, as your body will be used to sleeping during certain hours.

Similarly, the seat you choose on the flight can significantly impact how comfortable you are. Most people likely jump for the window seat, as the cabin wall provides something to lean on and there won't be people passing by, potentially interfering with the sleep. Seats near the bathrooms, conversely, may be noisier than others, inhibiting your rest regardless of the extra space. Other people may also want to spring for aisle seats for extra legroom they can use to stretch out - it's all personal preference. Take a look at seating charts beforehand to map out what might be best for you and then try to go from there.

2. Wear the right clothes

Nothing is going to make you more uncomfortable and unable to sleep than wearing the wrong outfit. Because the temperature of the cabin is so unpredictable, wear layers in preparation for the flight. The clothing should also be loose and cotton-based to allow the skin to breathe, and shoes that slip on and off are also useful for passengers trying to get comfortable.

3. Don't watch television

The in-flight entertainment system may be alluring, but you should try to resist the urge to watch television during your time in the air. The harsh lights of a television can keep you awake and inhibit the quality of any sleep you do manage to get, so it's best just to avoid the screens all together.

If you need some kind of entertainment to take your mind off the flight, try turning to audio options. Listening to music, audiobooks or the radio is a good alternative, as it can get your mind off the flight without the harmful side effects of the television. Using a personal audio device instead of the in-flight headphones also gives you some more leeway, as you don't have to worry about staying in a certain position to be closer to the adapter.

4. Instead of back, move forward

It's not uncommon to see people try to recline back to get comfortable. However, passengers who find themselves in the middle seats or those who are cautious about leaning all the way back into another flier's space are looking forward to find a solution.

"If for unforeseen circumstances you end up in the middle seat, it makes getting comfortable really difficult with your arms in an awkward position." Bobby Laurie, a flight attendant with a popular U.S. airline, told CNN. "I've seen more and more people sleeping on the tray table. It keeps you in your own space and allows you to spread your arms out."

Every passenger is going to have their own needs when it comes to getting comfortable on a flight. With some early preparation and the help of a few tips, you can catch all the sleep you need to get your vacation started as soon as you arrive.


What do you do to ensure sleeping on airplanes?

Every one has a great airplane story. What helps you catch some Zs on a flight? Tell us in the comments section below!


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