Many of us who travel frequently have simply become accustomed to sleeping poorly (or not at all) during flights. We’ve gotten used to the mediocre movies showing and the deep envy we feel as we look around the cabin and see our fellow passengers in a deep REM state. However, most people don’t fully explore their options, even after many sleepless journeys, and leave good rest on the table (the tray table, in this case). Read on for the steps you can take to get great rest on a plane.
Choose your side – When you buy a mattress, you start by understanding what type of sleeper you are. Do you sleep on your side, back, stomach, or combination? Know on a plane you are restricted to back and side, so make sure you pick your seat based on this knowledge. Know which seats will recline, and make sure you get one if you’re a pure back sleeper. If you’re a side sleeper, know your side and choose a window seat on the side of the plane that lets you get to your comfortable position.
Dress comfortably – I’m guessing that you don’t go home and sleep in a suit. So don’t wear one on the plane! Find some clothes that make you feel comfortable and relaxed, put the suit in the carry-on. Footwear is a big concern for some as well, don’t be afraid to kick off your shoes and be wearing just socks for the flight.
Exercise – Not right before the flight, but it definitely helps to get a little activity in the day of your flight. Don’t overdo it, or else you run the risk of cramping up, but it definitely helps you fall asleep if you are itching to get in that chair and rest a little bit.
During the Flight Tips
Get an ugly airport pillow – you know, the super touristy ones that you really dread (in a U shape). The thing is, these pillows are incredibly useful for sleeping well, but are often used wrong. Instead of making the bottom of the “U” behind your neck, put it in front of your neck so that it holds your head upright. This will make it so that your head can rest and give your neck some time off during the flight.
Dull the senses – invest in a quality sleep mask and earplugs. Again not the most stylish choice, but after all the hard work you did to fall asleep, the worst thing that could happen is that you’re disturbed by some random noise or light. And the sense that you always regret not tending to? Smell. There’s a good chance that someone is going to ruin your flight with their takeout food or smelly feet, so we suggest a slight scent on the previously mentioned pillow to keep your nose happy as long as possible.
Be prepared for all climates – every airplane temperature is a little different, so dress in layers and be prepared for whatever comes your way. A sweatshirt can be a good option since it can be removed, and when on can regulate the temperature of both your head and upper body.
There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a great night of sleep when you’re traveling, but do what you can to move the odds in your favor.
Joe is the editor of Mattress Clarity. When he isn't testing sleep products, he enjoys working out, reading, and playing classical piano.