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Frequent Business Traveller? Get the Scoop on How to Sleep on a Plane

How to Sleep On a Plane: Tips for Frequent Flyers & Business Travellers

There are millions of business travellers winging their way around the world every year and our travel advisors are often asked for their best tips on how to sleep on a plane. Business travellers fly more often than the average person so it’s certainly something to master!

Business traveller getting to sleep on a plane

When you’re preparing for a new time zone, a sleep mask is one of the best accessories you can pack to get sleep on a plane.

If you fly across several time zones in one flight, chances are you have had problems with sleeping at the right time, staying awake when you need to and struggling with jetlag – all of which can wreak havoc on your health and feeling of well-being. Whether you consider how to sleep on a plane to be somewhat of an art or maybe even a learned behavior, these are some of our most-relied on tips to get some needed shut-eye.

The Basic Logistics of How to Sleep on A Plane

Here are a few logistical things to consider before your long-haul flight:

  • Choose the right seat. With the help of apps like Seat Guru you can pick the seat you need and want. A window seat may give you the least interruptions and a place to lean your head. If you’re a side sleeper, you should also consider which side you are most comfortable on.
  • Upgrade: If you have the opportunity to upgrade to first class or even business class, you’ll get a roomier seat (or pod!) which usually reclines to a fully flat position, leaving you much better off. However, if these options are not within your company’s travel policy, consider using some of your frequent flyer miles to upgrade. Many airlines also offer premium economy, which often comes with a little more legroom, which will surely help you sleep on a plane.
  • Pack light. You will need – and want – all the leg room you can get. Don’t pack a bag that will have to be stowed under the seat in front of you. After 5 or 6 hours this will definitely cramp your style!
  • Pack a few much-needed accessories. Eye masks, ear plugs, noise canceling headphones, neck pillows – all of these go-to travel items can help you sleep on a plane uninterrupted, at least for a few hours.
  • Keep your valuables on your body. Cash, credit cards, and passport are all things that should be secured on your body. Any other valuable should be hidden deep inside your baggage so you don’t have to worry or keep an eye on anything.

Before You Go

There are several things you can do which will help you sleep on a plane – before you even leave!

  • Be well rested before you leave. It’s a common myth that if you stay up all night before you leave, you will be extra tired. Therefore, surely you’ll be able to sleep on a plane, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It can actually leave you even more tired than you would have been, which is the last thing you need if you’re flying for a conference or an important meeting.
  • Be hydrated. We hear this all the time and most of us probably we think we get enough water when in reality, we actually don’t. Flying is a very dehydrating experience. Make sure your water intake is where it should be (at least 8 cups/day) several days before your flight. Take this even one step further and pack an empty water bottle. You can refill this during your flight and drink as needed for the duration of your travels.
  • Eat light and healthy. Light healthy meals will keep your digestion functioning properly, eliminating indigestion and discomfort during your flight.
Snack to Get Sleep on a Plane

Healthy snacks and hydration play a key role in getting to sleep on a plane.

During the Flight

  • Eat a snack or meal. You may not like airplane food but it is important to eat. In a typical day, you don’t go 10, 12 or more hours without eating. Bring a healthy snack if you don’t want to eat what they serve on the plane.
  • Try to sleep to match your destination. Getting to sleep on a plane is especially important if your flight is landing in the morning, so you can function through the day after you land. This will help fight jet lag and get you adjusted to the local time quicker.
  • Keep your eyes shut. If you can’t sleep try to rest. Keeping your eyes shut will allow your body to rest and you may get some sleep as well. Don’t stimulate yourself with a movie or people watching. Allow yourself to rest by closing your eyes.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. Although you may think that alcohol will help you relax and get some sleep, alcohol is both a depressant and a dehydrator. This is not a good mixture. Stay away from the alcohol and get more rest.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Nobody can get comfortable enough to sleep in stiff, restrictive clothing! Dress comfortably and keep your business attire aside, with plans to change upon arrival.
  • Avoid coffee. Coffee is also a dehydrator as well as a stimulant. Swap caffeine for water; it is the best bet and better for you.
  • Bring something to read. If you absolutely cannot sleep, read something. It is a quiet activity, it may keep you in a restful state, and depending on what you are reading you may fall asleep.

On Behalf of the Entire Crew

Chances are if you are a veteran long-haul flyer you know what works for you already. If you are new to this type of travel schedule, these tips should help you sleep on a plane – or at the very least get some much-needed rest – and make your life easier and your travel more enjoyable. Choose your seat wisely, drink water, pack light, stretch your limbs and rest easy. Enjoy your flight!


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