Tips for getting sleep on a plane (part 2)

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The second of a two-part guide on how to sleep on a plane.

Note: This is the second part of a two-part guide. Read Part 1 of our guide that covers tactics you can use before your flight.


During boarding, scope out an empty row…

  • Most planes fly full, but if you happen to embark on one with hardly anyone else on board, note empty any rows and be ready to quickly snag them when the ‘fasten your seat belt’ sign goes out. If you’ve requested a special dietary requirement meal, be sure to keep a watch over your original seat – that’s where it’ll be delivered

Get in the zone…

  • Turn off the seat-back screen
  • Leave the laptop, iPad and office notes in the overhead locker
  • Turn off your phone
  • Listen to some relaxing music
  • Read something that’s easygoing, nothing too intellectually taxing

Fuel up the right way…

  • Soon after take-off, request one or two water bottles (not cups of waters) that you can easily stow in the seat-back pocket
  • Buy a bottle of water in the terminal before boarding if your flight doesn’t offer complimentary drinks (there’s no sense in overpaying for water)
  • Drink some milk – one of its constituents is believed to cause sleepiness

Put up the proverbial ‘do not disturb’ sign…

  • Fasten your seat belt over your blanket – flight attendants won’t then have to wake you if the seat belt sign goes on
  • Leave your tray table up – it’s a sign to flight attendants that you don’t want to be disturbed during food and beverage services
  • Ask your fellow passengers to tell flight attendants that you prefer not to be disturbed, and you’re happy to miss meals and drinks

Make yourself comfortable…

  • Feet typically swell during a flight, especially if you move relatively little – kick off your shoes and give them a bit of room
  • If you’re shorter, place some cushioning (like a folded sweatshirt) underneath your bottom – you’ll raise yourself in the seat putting your head better in line with the head rest
  • Use the bathroom at the last possible moment before you plan to sleep (the walk down the cabin will be helpful too – see next point)

You’ve got to move it, move it

  • Awake or asleep, the body likes to move in order to ensure blood flow and relieve pressure points – move about in your seat, wiggle your feet, gently nod your head, angle your body to a different side…better circulation leads to more relaxation (however counterintuitive it may seem)
  • The added bonus here is you help to stave off blood clots

Trick your body in to thinking it’s asleep…

Keep warm and cozy…

  • Try and nab two blankets – one for your top and one for your legs and feet

Those with a fear of flying probably won’t find any of the advice helpful, and perhaps might want to try a course designed to help them overcome their phobia.

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Image: Zach Klein)

Tips for getting sleep on a plane (part 2) was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (523 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to