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How to sleep on a plane

Eve Marie Steenman

Author: Eve-Marie Steenman

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Most of us will try desperately to avoid spending the beginning of our holiday recovering from a lack of sleep on the flight. Whilst some of us are lucky enough to dose off before the plane has even left the ground, many will struggle to scrape a half-eyed attempt at sleep. If business class isn’t an option for you, we’ve come up with some handy hints to help your quest for in-flight shuteye.

Section 1: The basics

We all want to feel comfortable during a flight, but it’s the getting to sleep part that really makes or breaks the whole affair. Here are some basic but essential tips to get you on to the plane-sleeping ladder.

For starters, invest in an eye-mask. Eye-masks can shut out even the brightest of lights. Don’t rely on your airline to provide one; splash out on your own. To block out any un-wanted noise, noise-cancellation headphones are the answer. Although earplugs will cut out some clatter, these will drown out all external sound and let you listen to whatever might soothe you to sleep. Giving your head and neck some comfort on board a flight is also important. Choose a neck pillow that suits you.

Comfy clothes – whilst perhaps not the most stylish you’ve ever looked – are hella worth it! They will get you into a relaxed, sleeping mode in no time. Getting a pair of comfy socks is also a bonus. Kick your shoes off and give your feet space to wriggle and breathe.

Easing yourself into the most natural sleeping position possible will make sleeping easier and help ease pressure on your spine. Recline your chair, but just remember there’s a passenger directly behind you. Make sure they’re happy with your seat on their lap before you pull the lever!

Section 2: For the more experienced traveler

If you fly often for work or leisure, you’ll know it’s best to bag that sacred window-seat. You can rest your head against the side of the plane – trust us, it’s much easier than relying solely on a neck pillow! Likewise, a front row seat or one in the emergency exit row allows you to stretch your legs. If they’ve already been taken, just keep your legs uncrossed so you don’t restrict your circulation.

Reduce exposure to blue light. As tempting as they are, switch off all your devices. Blue light exposure will prevent the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin from being released and thus inhibit sleep. The film or e-book can wait – you’ll thank us later!

Avoid a full stomach. Having a big meal requires your heart to work harder, so overeating makes it harder to catch some zzzs. Skipping alcohol also works in your favour. Despite the common belief that booze makes you tired, it actually prevents a sound sleep!

Section 3: Advanced level

Now, to get serious. For the frequent fliers who will go the extra mile for a restful flight, these high level tips will not disappoint. 

Not only fantastic for the sleepyheads out there, but great for regular fliers too: the ostrich pillow. It’s a quirky invention that, once you’re past its comedic aesthetic, is wonderfully useful. Designed to block out light and sound, the pillow fits over your head like a very cushioned balaclava. A little bit out there? We know. But they’re just as good as they are mad.

The BauBax, aka the “world’s best travel jacket,” has 15 in-built features including a neck pillow, eye-mask, gloves and even a drink holder! Granted, we don’t see you needing all of these features on board a flight, but if you’re willing to invest, this jacket certainly packs a lot of use into a single item of clothing.

For the adventurous only – try out the highly recommended mid-flight pilates stretches. From basic tips about your posture to in-aisle lunges, we think these are seriously worth a go. Not only is movement good for your health, but a simple stretch might be just what you need to relax. 

Long-haul flights are truly excellent at drying out our skin and making us feel less than fresh. Packing lip balm, hand cream and moisturiser will have you well on your way to feeling human again. They can even aid sleep by keeping you feeling clean and cosy. If you want to take it a step further, a toothbrush and some refreshing eye-drops wouldn’t go amiss!

Section 4: For the pros

Rather than forking out for whacky comfort-accessories, simply spend that money on getting a good night’s rest.

With YOTELAIR, you’re guaranteed a restful night. We’ll take care of all the boring bits, like luggage storage and security. We have complimentary hot drinks and super comfy pillows, so you can sleep well before you even get on the plane.

Author: Eve-Marie Steenman

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