Sleep Better on a Plane

Frequent flyers and occasional travelers alike know the struggle of trying to find rest aboard the bustling environment of an airplane. Cramped spaces, constant noise, and the unnatural rhythm of travel can wreak havoc on our ability to get a good night’s sleep. However, with careful planning and a few savvy choices, it’s possible to transform your in-flight experience. A strategic approach to seat selection is key; it’s worth the effort to seek out spaces with extra legroom, quiet surroundings, and minimal disturbances. Exploring how the choices of seats and adjustments to your pre-flight routine can set the stage for a peaceful sleep will have you arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to go. Let’s buckle up and dive into how best to ensure your next flight includes a restful slumber.

Seat selection

Catching Z’s at 30,000 Feet: The Fine Art of Seat Selection

Have you ever stepped off a flight feeling more like a zombie than a zealous traveler ready to explore? Your choice of seat could be the culprit behind those in-flight sleep struggles. Let’s unlock the snooze-inducing potential of savvy seat selection—a simple yet often overlooked strategy to transform your flight experience from groggy to glorious.

Firstly, let’s talk real estate – airplane real estate, that is. For the dreamers and dozers, there’s a slice of onboard heaven: the window seat. It’s the gold standard for sleep-seeking flyers. Leaning against the wall for head support and escaping the disturbances of a bustling aisle instantly ups the chances of some uninterrupted shut-eye. The window seat also grants you control over the lighting, so say goodbye to that harsh stream of sunlight thwarting your nap attempts.

For those with long legs, an exit row or bulkhead seat offers priceless extra inches of legroom. But there’s a trade to consider: this prime stretch-out space often comes without the ability to lift the armrests, which can be a game-changer for those who prefer curling into a cozy sleep position.

The aisle conundrum—yes, it’s easier for those impromptu bathroom breaks or stretching your legs, but it’s a minefield of potential sleep disruptions. With a steady flow of passengers and cabin crew passing by, an aisle seat exposes the slumber-seeker to the whims of every beverage cart rattle and restroom-goer’s shuffling. Opting for an aisle seat closer to the front may lessen these disturbances, as well as providing smoother deplaning convenience upon arrival.

Another often underutilized tactic is selecting a seat towards the back of the plane. While the engines’ hum could be a mild annoyance for some, for others, it’s a consistent white noise generator—perfect for lulling one into a dream state. The drawback? Well, depending on the aircraft, the rear seats might not recline, so be sure to do your homework.

Speaking of reclining, let’s talk premium seats. If budget allows, upgrading to a higher class with lie-flat or more reclining seats is a game-changer. However, even within the comfort of premium, strategic selection is key. Aim for a window seat away from toilets and galleys to maximize the peace and quiet.

An often-overlooked factor is the neighborhood. If possible, peek at the seat selection map when checking in online. A row or area with fewer passengers booked could become your personal sleep oasis. Likewise, steering clear of high-traffic areas around restrooms and flight attendant stations minimizes disturbances.

Let’s not forget pre-flight preparation. Your seat selection strategy should dovetail with packing a sleep-aid ensemble that might include a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, and perhaps a light blanket. Combining this kit with your well-considered seat will transform your trip into an in-flight slumber party for one.

The nomadic life isn’t just about the destination; it’s about adopting a travel-savvy mindset to ensure the journey is as restful as possible. Pick the right seat and prep with care, and you’ll wake up from your high-altitude hibernation fresh and ready to embrace whatever adventures await.

An image displaying different airplane seats and a person choosing their seat.

Sleep accessories

Oh, weary traveler! So you’ve picked your perfect perch aboard the trusty steel bird—next stop, dreamland. But let’s be real, finding slumber in the skies is more art than science. Here’s the curated list of sleep accessories to ensure you arrive at your destination refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to roam.

Neck Pillow: Your Cervical Savior

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wrap snugly around your neck, offering a cocoon of comfort in coach. Choose a memory foam neck pillow with a plush cover, or dare to dream with an inflatable version that packs down to nothing. Make sure it is supportive enough to prevent the dreaded head-bob.

Eye Mask: The Curtain Call of Light

An eye mask is like a personal blackout curtain for your eyes. Go for one with molded cups that let you blink freely. Aim for soft, breathable materials that won’t leave you waking up in a sweat or with an “I’ve just been pressed like a panini” face crease.

Earplugs or Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The symphony of the skies—a baby’s concerto, the chatty Cathy, the clinking cart—is not the soundtrack to sweet dreams. Earplugs can muffle the madness, while noise-cancelling headphones can drown it with soothing sounds or tranquil tunes.

Warm Socks: Toasty Toes for High Altitude

Cold feet? Not just for wedding days. Planes can be chilly, and cozy socks are like a warm hug for your feet. Pack a soft, cushy pair, and if you’re feeling playful, let them be zany—unicorns or dancing pizzas, perhaps?

Layered Clothing: Climate Control at 30,000 Feet

The airplane climate is as predictable as a roulette wheel. Be the master of your thermal destiny with layers. A soft, breathable long-sleeve top under a warm cardigan or sweatshirt is a safe bet. When you hit the freezing altitude lottery, you’ll thank yourself.

Travel Blanket: Barriers and Bundles

A personal travel blanket is the Swiss Army knife of comfort. It’s a barrier against the previous occupant, a bundle of warmth, and a makeshift pillow in a pinch. Opt for a microfiber or fleece option that’s big enough to cover you, small enough to stow away.

Hydration Helpers: Mist and Balm

Your body is a temple, and temples don’t thrive on dry recirculated air. Keep a face mist handy—just a spritz for hydration.

Don’t forget your lips; they chap before you can say “landing gear.” Keep them kissable with a nourishing balm.

Inflatable Footrest: Economy Feel like First

If Zzz’s are the goal, an inflatable footrest is your MVP. It can turn your tiny space into a palatial expanse where your legs recline as nobility. Don’t inflate it fully; that way, it can mold to the perfect height and support.

Remember, fellow globetrotter, the journey is as important as the destination. With your arsenal of snooze-inducing gadgets and gizmos, you can turn that metal tube into your personal zen zone. Happy landings and even happier napping!

And just like that, with your sleep sanctuary assembled, you’re ready to drift into dreams as you jet across the skies. Here’s to waking up in a whole new world, recharged and ready for adventure—for where you land, the real journey begins. Sweet dreams and even sweeter landings!

Illustration of sleep accessories, including a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs, warm socks, layered clothing, travel blanket, hydration mist, nourishing balm, and an inflatable footrest.

Photo by olhakozachenko on Unsplash

Pre-flight routine

Creating a Pre-Flight Ritual for A Sky-High Slumber

Imagine arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to embrace the adventures that await. For those who view the world as their playground, achieving sleep on a plane is akin to an art form, a necessary skill for the modern explorer. One’s pre-flight routine is a tapestry of meticulously chosen steps that pave the way to restful in-flight naps. Let’s venture into some savvy practices to cultivate peace before takeoff, transforming your seat into a cozy sleeping nook at 35,000 feet.

Timing is everything, and so is tuning your body’s clock. A few days before the flight, start shifting your sleep schedule to match the time zone of your destination. This not only helps in reducing jet lag but also makes it easier to fall asleep on the plane, aligning with your body’s natural rhythms.

Upon arriving at the airport, instead of rushing through, indulge in some relaxation tactics. Find a quiet corner and invest time in meditation or yoga stretches. Not a yogi? Gentle stretching works wonders too. This calming practice reduces stress, loosens muscles, and prepares the body for a prolonged period of inactivity.

In the terminal, opt for foods that are light on the stomach and known for their sleep-inducing properties. Bananas, cherries, and warm herbal teas are imbued with natural substances that promote sleep. Skip the caffeine and alcohol; these are energy thieves in disguise, tricking you into a wakeful state when you hope to doze off.

When it’s time to board, walk onto that plane with confidence, armed with your sleep-aid ensemble. But don’t forget the most comforting item of all—a familiar scent. A small lavender sachet or a spritz of your favorite calming essential oil on a scarf can act as an olfactory lullaby, easing you into slumber exotic enough to match your wanderlust spirit.

Once ensconced in your seat, resist the urge to dive into the latest blockbuster movie. Instead, use the first 10 to 15 minutes to establish your nest. Arrange your neck pillow, drape your blanket, and slip on those soft socks. Take a few moments to do some deep breathing exercises, sending a signal to your body that it’s time to unwind.

Consider a short pre-sleep routine that you perform at home—be it reading a few pages of a book, jotting down thoughts in a journal, or solving a quick crossword puzzle. Performing this ritual on the plane signals your brain that the next step is sleep. Keep this activity low-tech to avoid blue light interference with your sleep cycle.

Finally, remember that dehydration is the nemesis of comfort, so drink water before the flight. But not too much—you don’t want to be waking up for bathroom breaks. It’s balancing act, where sipping is the key verb, not guzzling. Instead, bring a hydrating facial spray or moisturizer to combat the dry cabin air and keep your skin feeling fresh.

Once you’ve slipped into your cozy cocoon, lean back, breathe out, and let the hum of the engines fade into a distant lullaby. Sweet dreams are a boarding pass away when you embark on every flight with a well-honed pre-flight ritual. Keep your wanderlust well-rested; for tomorrow’s sunrise could be in a new land, ripe with untold stories and unfurled maps.

A person sleeping peacefully on an airplane, fully immersed in their cozy cocoon with blankets and pillows.

While jet-setting across time zones or flying through the night can seem like the antithesis of a restful evening, implementing these strategies ensures it doesn’t have to compromise your sleep. With a thought-out seat selection, the comfort of sleep accessories, and a calming pre-flight ritual, the dream of sleeping soundly on a plane becomes reality. The hustle and noise of the cabin slowly fade away as you recline in your carefully chosen seat, and the journey becomes not just a means to an end but an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. So on your next departure, remember that goodnight’s sleep at 30,000 feet is not a luxury but an achievable travel goal, ensuring you reach your destination as the best version of yourself.

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