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How To Sleep On A Plane In Economy Class


sleep on a plane economy class


If you are one of those people that can sleep anywhere, you are lucky. I’m not one of them. For me to get a good rest, I need a comfortable bed and absolute quiet surroundings. So sleeping on an airplane for me is out of the question.

All these years of traveling, I could never master the idea of sleeping like a baby on a plane. Sleeping in business class is a bit easier, but if you are in economy class, learning how to sleep on a plane in economy class is going to be a bit of a challenge.

However, if you are one of those people that have success sleeping in confined, noisy areas that are crammed with people, well I have some good news.

Although it can be very difficult to sleep on a plane, luckily there are some things you can do that will really help you get the rest you deserve and probably need. Let’s look at some tips you can follow to help you sleep on a plane in economy class.


Sleeping on a Plane In Economy Class Tips

1. Choose a Window Seat 

tips surviving a long flight


Choosing your seat beforehand is a wise thing to do. If possible, try to book a window seat. On long flights, you will appreciate the ability to lean against the wall and rest your head.

Avoid the middle seat at all costs. In over 20 years of flying, I have never had a comfortable flight in the middle seat. There always seem to be people on either side of you, causing you to be stuck in between. It’s no fun.

You can handle it for a short flight, but any longer flights, I would try to avoid the middle seats.

You can opt for the aisle seat which will be more comfortable than the middle, with a few exceptions.

I found it difficult to rest in that seat due to the people walking up and down the aisle, which tend to bump into you, or the flight attendants’ cart will be in your way. Leaning into the aisle is not an option.

Also, with the aisle seat, you can count on someone sitting next to you will need to get up to use the washroom. Happens all the time. The second you fall asleep someone will wake you so they can get up.

Let’s say you did what you could to score that window seat and it just wasn’t working in your favor. Take some time to grieve because it is definitely going to be harder to sleep, but there is still a way to do so.

When in the middle seat, wait until it is okay to put down the tray table. You can then cross your arms and lay your head on top of your arms on the tray. This is definitely not an ideal way to sleep and there are times you can’t have this tray table down, but it is at least something you can try when you become desperate for some shut eye.

You can also try adjusting your headrest to offer your head a bit more support so you can lean to the left or to the right.

If you are subjected to an aisle seat, you are awarded with unobstructed access to the bathroom, but it makes sleeping much more difficult, so you will have to get creative.

First, keep your elbows and feet tucked in at all times to avoid being hit as the drink cart passes by down the aisle. For this seat, you can attempt the same as the middle seat and either adjust the headrest or lay on the tray. If you have a little more room, you can even bring your legs up and lean your head down onto your knees.

Again, none of these sound ideal or even in the least bit comfortable which is why you want to do what you can to get that coveted window seat. Also, you have to remember that you are the one who will have to move whenever someone in the other two seats needs to get up and use the restroom.


2. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeinated Drinks

It’s not a secret that alcohol and caffeine prevent sleep. If you are trying to get sleep on an airplane, you will need to reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine intake.

For avoiding jet lag, It’s a proven fact that drinking alcohol can actually act as a stimulant which is counterproductive to getting desired sleep. Drinking alcohol during your flight is never a good thing to help you avoid jet lag.


3. Use a Proper Travel Pillow

There are so many different travel pillows on the market today. It’s important that you choose one that will allow you to not only be comfortable but support your head and neck properly while seated to help you achieve proper rest.

This Trtl travel pillow has been designed to prevent a stiff neck while trying to sleep while traveling. It stops the need for you to lean against the airplane for head support, during rest.

You can also use this amazing pillow on trains, buses, cars or even at home on the sofa!

Maybe you have tried other foam airplane pillows, inflatable airplane cushions, travel bean pillows or an inflatable headrest, and realized how long it takes to find the best in-flight pillow, let’s face it, the provided airplane pillows can be very disappointing and not worth using.

The Trtl Pillow is scientifically proven to hold the head in a better ergonomic position than other pillows. It’s also lightweight and easy to pack with you in a carry-on bag.

I was surprised how affordable the TRTL travel pillow is on Amazon. Just click the link or image above to check it out.


4. Bring Noise Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are the key to giving you some peace and quiet in a loud environment like an airplane. Trying to sleep in economy class will be interrupted by other noise from other people, crying babies, and airplane engines,etc.

A quality pair of noise-canceling headphones will help eliminate outside noise from keeping you awake. The ones I recommend the most and that I currently use are the Bose QuietComfort headphones. They are simply amazing, although they are pricey compared to others, they are worth every penny.

If you are on a smaller budget, there are many other options available. In my post, Best budget headphones for under $100, I outline some noise-canceling headphones that are comfortable, lightweight and durable.


5. Recline Your Seat

Did you know that you can recline your seat even in economy class? Yes, you sure can. It helps with adding that extra bit of space you need for sleeping, plus the recline position is more comfortable.

My recommendation though is to please be considerate when reclining your seat. It’s not fair to the person behind you if you recline all the way back into their lap! They won’t appreciate it.

But feel free to grab a blanket or comfy sweater, tilt your seat back if possible and sleep away!

* Pro Tip: If you are going to sleep on the plane, it’s important to keep your seatbelt on when you fall asleep so the flight attendant doesn’t have to wake you in the event the seatbelt sign comes on. If you are using a blanket, make sure to tuck it under the seat belt so they won’t wake you up.


6. Maximize Your Space

We already know that space is limited when sitting in economy class. I recently wrote an article showing the actual legroom you can expect to have on certain airlines. Check it out; you will be amazed by how little legroom you actually have!

If you are a larger person, well that space just got a whole lot smaller. So, by maximizing the space you do have available, will make things more comfortable, allowing you to rest better.

Ok, so how do you do that?

One thing you can do is make sure your table tray is always in the upright and locked position when not in use. The tray takes up considerable space when folded flat. Although I have seen many people use it as a headrest to lean on, I don’t recommend doing that if it isn’t absolutely necessary because of how uncomfortable it is.

Also, make sure there is nothing stuffed under the seat in front of you. This is valuable leg and foot space. When you lean back in your seat, it is nice to have that space under the seat in front of you to stretch out and relax.

This is not always possible due to luggage restrictions in the overhead bins, but always try to fit your carry on bags in those bins leaving the space empty under the seat.


7. Use an Eye mask 

How To Avoid Jet Lag


Having a good eye mask is very helpful for sleeping on an airplane. Getting rest on a flight can be difficult when there are so many variables that can prevent it.

Most times on a long haul flight, the cabin interior lights will be dimmed, which is great. But there will always be someone with their reading light on which is annoying.

To prevent that from bothering you, use a sleeping eye mask. Sleep masks are proven to be effective and help travelers adjust to different time zones and reduce Jet lag.

You will see many people using them on airplanes to help rest. There are so many styles available, and they are very affordable. They will fit into your carry on bag and are easy to access and use anytime you like.

Some people are very dependent on covering their eyes for sleep, and sleep masks are essential for them. Myself personally, I love the comfort and feel you get from a good quality sleep mask. Try to avoid the cheap knock-offs to save a few bucks.

Normally, these masks are very inexpensive anyway, and they are very easy to purchase online or in-store.

Sleep masks are also beneficial to help reduce signs of headaches and stress. You can get a great quality sleeping mask for around $15 on Amazon. They will usually come with earplugs and a travel carry pouch.

I recommend the Bedtime Bliss eye mask. It is very comfortable, lightweight and blocks out the light. It is a top-rated seller on Amazon with thousands of 5-star reviews.

You can read those reviews and check out the Bedtime Bliss eye mask here.


8. Use Travel Compression Socks

Wait. What? Are you telling me socks will help me sleep better on a plane in economy class?

Well, kinda. Let me explain.

I mentioned in my article 10 Must-have travel accessories for long flights that longer flights can really take its toll on our body. It’s very common to have poor blood circulation when flying for long times.

Have you ever noticed after you land from a flight and your ankles feel swollen and bulged out?

Enter compression socks. These will help prevent swelling and blood clotting on a long flight. They will help keep your circulation going. Perfect for swollen calves and ankles.

Swollen calves, ankles, and poor blood circulation is uncomfortable and not great for our overall health. It can cause soreness and the overall reduction in comfort, along with increased stress, is something that will cause anyone to be restless and get little sleep.

Many people have mentioned how helpful the Physix gear compression socks are. They are designed to be comfortable and look stylish. They are also very easy to put on and take off during a flight.

You can wear them as often as you like and if you travel frequently, these are going to help you be more comfortable and protect your legs and feet.

Plus, you will sleep better with them on!


9. Pack Some Lavender Scented Items

Lavender is well-known for promoting relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving a person’s sleep quality. For these reasons, it may be something beneficial to include in your carry on bag for your next trip.

When doing this, however, keep in mind the restrictions and what is prohibited in your carry on luggage. You are allowed to carry essential oils onto a plane, but you have to abide by the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule.

When it comes to your essential oils, this means you can carry 3 containers of 3.4 ounces or less in 1 clear bag, and only 1 bag is permitted per passenger.

Lavender essential oils are available in a rollerball option as well which makes it much easier and more convenient for traveling. In addition to the rollerball, you can also find travel-friendly lavender scented lotions.

You can also spray your travel pillow or neck pillow before you board the plane with a lavender pillow spray to relax and calm you for the duration of your flight.

Hopefully, you found these guides helpful.

Thanks for reading!




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