How to Sleep Well on a Plane?

Nadia Podrabinek Nadia Podrabinek

Written by Nadia Podrabinek

Getting Better Sleep on the Plane

If you are never able to sleep during the flight, this post is for you.

Here is my collection of helpful tips, arranged from easiest to achieve to hardest:

  • Neck pillow
  • Eye mask / Sleep mask
  • Ear plugs / Noise cancelling headphones
  • No alcohol or caffeine
  • Better seats (exit row seats for extra legroom or premium seats).
  • Upgrade to business class – I know, it’s not the best value for money.
    However, this may be a solid choice for a long overnight flight, especially if upgrading will not cost 4-5 times more). And there is even more to that … once you get the taste of being able to lie down flat during a flight, you never ever want to go back to economy, haha!

What people say on Reddit

I have a Bluetooth sleep mask which I pair to a white noise app on my phone. Blow up travel neck pillow cause I pack light. Cape for blanket. Indica gummy and either Benadryl or a benzo if you have them. A shot of Woodford Reserve and I’m out for the duration.


I’ve never been able to sleep on an airplane either. When I have, it’s been a combination of a very long flight (over 10 hours) , a window seat, a small pillow, ear plugs, and lack of sleep before flying. I’ve had 14 hour flights when I wasn’t able to sleep at all.


Get a window seat if you can. Bring a small packable travel pillow, lean against it. Sleep mask, noise-cancelling headphones help.

It also helps to get some good, outdoor exercise earlier in the day. Try to go out for a vigorous walk, get plenty of oxygen and try to tire yourself out a bit.

Eat lightly the day or two before, and eat lightly on the plane, too.


I am a guy over 6′ tall and have come up with a pretty good method. For my carry on I always bring my large backpack that is sort of overstuffed. Depending on where I’m flying, I’ll either have a coat or a blanket in my bag (which is important). After take off I put my bag on my lap, place my coat or blanket on top of my bag, and sleep on top of my bag like a pillow. I got the idea after seeing some inflatable pillow that does the same thing in a skymall. It’s the only way I can sleep on a plane and has worked pretty well since. Give it a try.


If this sounds too simple and generic or you have already tried all ot these tricks to get a better sleep on the plane (except for flying business class), I’ve got a few more tips:

  • Have a scarf or blanket to keep warm on the head, shoulders, knees, and … toes.
  • Be tired! This makes your sleep perfect during the flight.
  • Try relaxation techniques: Deep breathing or meditation
  • Listen to calming music or white noise.
  • Check out foot hammocks!
  • Consider sleep aids: Consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication or natural sleep aids.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and during your flight to stay hydrated, but avoid drinking large amounts close to bedtime to minimize trips to the restroom.
  • Get up and stretch: Take short walks and stretch your legs to promote circulation and reduce stiffness.
  • Accept that you won’t get any sleep 😀

I also really liked this step-by-step instruction by some random guy on Reddit:

  1. Board the plane and get comfy (as much as possible).
  2. Watch a movie once you’ve taken off.
  3. Wait for dinner while watching the movie.
  4. Eat dinner. Have one or two drinks – enough to make you drowsy, but not enough to cause a hangover or severe dehydration.
  5. After dinner, take 10mg of Melatonin, which usually takes about half an hour to take effect. You can also go for Benadryl night or Gravol.
  6. After half an hour, put on your neck pillow, eye mask, and blanket; turn on your noise-canceling headphones; and recline your seat as far back as possible.
  7. Sleep.

Read more on the subject

Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits

Best Sleeping Masks

White Noise Playlist – Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music

Best Business Class Airlines

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