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Travel Behavior Health Tips Lifestyle

10 Tips to Help You Sleep Better on a Plane

7 months, 1 week ago

5465  0
Posted on Sep 13, 2023, 5 p.m.

Technological advancements have made air travel easier than ever with multiple amenities like free drinks, good food, and entertainment options. Then there are the more expensive classes like Economy Plus and Business or First Class, where you get even more value-added features, so you can have the most comfortable journey possible. However, it’s still traveling, and traveling can be super tiring if you don’t proactively take some measures to avoid exhaustion and jet lag. We’ve listed below some of the best tips to help you sleep better on a plane. Read on to know more.

Download your favorite content in advance

The first tip is for when you cannot fall asleep no matter what you do. How would you kill time then? It might not matter much if you’re on a short domestic flight, but it can get pretty isolating on longer international routes. The pro tip here is to download all the stuff you normally watch or listen to before boarding the flight. This way, you won’t have to use the expensive in-air Wi-Fi, which is also way slower than a good home internet connection.

Do make sure that your home internet is fast enough to download huge files quickly, and without throttling the speed for other users connected to the network. Take a look at Cox Internet if you’re based in the US. It offers multiple speed options and comes with unlimited data so you can download anything you want.

Layer up

One of the major problems most people face on a flight is that they’re either feeling too cold or hot and can’t fall asleep. The easiest solution to tackle this is to add multiple layers of clothing. While the optimal temperature for sleeping is sixty to sixty-seven Fahrenheit, the cabin temperature can fluctuate depending on multiple factors. When you have put on multiple layers, you can peel off each layer until you hit the sweet spot where it’s not too cold or hot so you can sleep peacefully. 

Choose your seat carefully

When you’re booking your flight in advance, you may have an option to choose your seat. Choosing the right seat is important because getting stuck in odd places can make the entire journey uncomfortable and you may not be able to sleep. For example, seats near the restroom are bad because people will queue up right next to you. Alternatively, window seats are better because they often have an accompanying side headrest.

Lean backward with proper support

Most airplane seats have some wiggle room in the sense that you can slightly tweak your seating posture and lean back. Avoid leaning too much so that it doesn’t make the other passenger uncomfortable. You can check in with your flight attendant first, and request their assistance. 

Get a sleep mask

Airplanes usually keep the cabin lights on. Even if they turn off the lights on long routes, some lights always stay on so people don’t fumble in the dark. All these lights can make it challenging for you to fall asleep especially if you’re used to sleeping in dark rooms. A sleep mask is an inexpensive yet highly effective accessory to block out all the lights and provide you with a similar dark environment.

Use a travel pillow

Neck pillows or travel pillows may seem silly to some, but they serve their purpose very well. Sitting upright for hours on end can make your neck muscles become stiff and you may experience some pain too. Also, we tend to rest our heads diagonally when we doze off, and having a good travel pillow can ensure proper support so you can wake up feeling refreshed. 

Wear earplugs

Much like the sleep masks that block out all the light, earplugs block out all the noise by plugging your ears. It’s a non-electronic accessory and completely safe to take on a flight with you. Make sure to get the right size that nicely fits into your ears. 

Listen to white noise

If you don’t prefer wearing earplugs, you can use your headphones or earphones to serve almost the same comfort without physically plugging your ears. Another key difference is that you’ll play white noise over your headphones. Alternatively, you can get active or hybrid noise-canceling headphones or earphones that block out external noise pretty well. 

Choose the best plane

Regardless of which class you choose, not all airlines have the same kind of experience for the same class. For example, Emirates usually offers more legroom than other airlines in economy class. Similarly, Singapore Airlines offers economy class seats with a wider pitch than other airlines. 

Don’t consume any caffeine or alcohol

Even if you’re getting all the drinks for free, it’s generally considered a good practice to avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol on a flight. Consuming caffeine can make you jittery and you may experience trouble falling asleep. Similarly, alcohol may help some people doze off quicker, but it can behave like a stimulant after a few hours causing you to wake up frequently during sleep.


This concludes some of the best tips you can get to help you sleep better on a plane. To sum it up, make sure to layer up so you don’t end up feeling too cold, choose your seat carefully, and bring a travel pillow with you. Moreover, bring some good noise-canceling headphones or earplugs with you so you don’t get disturbed by the external noise.

This article was written for WHN by Marry Perry, ABMS. Marry an ABMS board-certified rheumatologist with more than 10 years of hands-on experience in managing complex rheumatologic concerns. She is currently a practicing physician in the states of New York and Texas.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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