How to Fall Asleep on a Flight

Sleep experts at Bed Kingdom share their top tips whether you have a long-haul international flight or just a short journey.

City Style and Living Fall 2023 How to Fall Asleep on a Flight Emirates Business Class
/ Courtesy Emirates

Choose your seat carefully

Where you choose to sit on a plane can determine how easy it might be to fall asleep. Try to avoid sitting near the toilets, as this area can get quite busy. Whenever possible, select a window seat as it provides a solid surface to lean against while sleeping and gives you control over the window shade, allowing you to create a darker environment.

Sleeping in a middle seat can be more challenging due to the limited space available. Make sure to store all your belongings in the overhead bins to give yourself as much legroom as possible. Also, bring a neck travel pillow which offers comfort and supports your head while dozing off upright. If you are sleeping in an aisle seat, make sure to utilize the aisle armrest. Since you have easy access to the aisle, you can use the aisle armrest as additional support for your head or upper body when sleeping.

Loosen your shoelaces

Keeping your shoelaces too tight for an extended period of time can end up compressing nerves and restricting blood circulation to your feet, allowing your feet to fall asleep midway through your sleep. Loosening your laces on the plane can help reduce any discomfort and help maintain healthy circulation, which can therefore help you sleep for longer.

Also, consider wearing comfortable slip-on shoes or travel socks on your flight instead of shoes with laces to provide more freedom for your feet while you sleep.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol actually lowers the quality of your sleep as you spend less time in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, which can make you feel more tired when you wake up. Caffeine can also disrupt your sleep patterns. Both alcohol and caffeine leave you dehydrated, not ideal in the dry cabin air.

Uncross your legs

Sitting cross-legged limits blood flow on one half of your body, which places extra stress on your lower spine. Instead of crossing your legs, make sure to keep your legs parallel with your knees slightly bent for the ultimate plane sleeping position. It’s also recommended to adjust your leg position periodically during your flight, stretching your legs where possible and moving your feet and ankles to promote circulation, reduce swelling and enhance comfort.

Pack a sleeping kit

Consider investing in a supportive memory foam travel pillow to prevent neck strain and help you maintain a more comfortable position for sleeping. If you have limited space, consider taking an inflatable neck pillow or a large scarf that can be rolled around your neck or used as a blanket. An eye mask is also essential to block out any light and create a darker environment for more effective sleep. Finally, bring earplugs or invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to drown out any in-flight distractions.

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City Style and Living Magazine Summer 2023 cover

This original article first appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.

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