Sleeping on a plane

Sleeping on the plane is often not even a thought – and that even though we are actually tired. Given all the noise, limited space and other passengers, no wonder either. However, with a few tips you can still get some rest and even sleep on the plane.

Why sleeping on a plane is so difficult?

You want to start your vacation trip fit and well rested? Or come actually recovered from the vacation and want to relax again in the airplane? Poor sleep or no sleep at all on a plane can quickly ruin that expectation. Sleeping is sometimes anything but easy, especially on a long-haul flight.

Sleeping on a plane challenge

If you can’t sleep anywhere, uncomfortable seats, bright lights or noisy fellow passengers won’t help you sleep on a plane. Add to that pressure on the ears, turbulence, or the joyful anticipation of the destination. If you really want to fall asleep to get off the plane rested, it most likely won’t work out.

The key to getting a good night’s sleep on the plane is, as is often the case, relaxation. Thanks to some preparations, this can also be achieved well, so that you can literally "dream" of the destination already once.

What tips can help to sleep on the plane?

Even if it’s not as easy as at home: You can also be comfortable on a plane. Especially on a long-haul flight, sleep is the order of the day. Thanks to a few preparations, you can create a real feel-good atmosphere in the scarce square meter of your own seat.

8 tips for restful sleep on the plane

Before the flight

The tension usually starts before the flight, after all, for many, just getting to the airport is a trip in itself. By planning your airport transfer or booking priority boarding in time, you can already avoid a lot of stress. Also, coffee or large amounts of sugar before the flight are hardly helpful for sleeping on the plane.

The seat

Most of the time you can reserve a seat of your choice at the time of booking. Here you can use different considerations: At the window seat, you can lean your head against the wall to sleep on the plane. But here you have the disadvantage of having to pass your fellow passengers to get to the toilet or stretch your legs. On the aisle, on the other hand, there is more legroom, but your sleep could be disturbed by passengers walking by. This is especially true with seats near the lavatories, which create additional noise. A tip is to book seats in the front row or at the emergency exits, which often offer more space.

Dress up

When it comes to comfort on the plane, sleeping comes before looking good. Sweatpants, leggings and co. can be immensely helpful when sleeping on the plane. Make sure to dress warm enough, because it can get chilly on the plane. The dry air adds to the potential for colds. Moreover, to sleep on the plane, you can take off your shoes.

Habits and rituals

Admittedly: Wearing your favorite pajamas on an airplane is rather unusual. Still, old familiar rituals can be used to sleep on a plane. Read a good book, listen to relaxing music, or take your usual scent with you. We then feel reminded of home with this sleep aid and the body remembers that it is now time to sleep. Bringing your own snacks can also help you relax.

The right position

Waking up with a stiff neck and a tired body isn’t exactly pleasant. In order to feel fitter after sleeping than before, a comfortable sleeping position is especially important. A pillow or soft garment is especially helpful for sleeping on a plane. Then you can lean your head back in a relaxed position. It also helps to stretch out or change positions every now and then. A blanket provides additional atmosphere for falling asleep. But make sure to fasten your seatbelt over your blanket so that the flight crew doesn’t have to wake you up for the inspection.

Hide stimuli

The light and the noise are often major factors that keep us from sleeping on the plane. However, there are simple remedies: a sleep mask can be placed over the eyes to help you fall asleep. Because when it’s dark, sleep hormones are released and we get tired faster. Earplugs help against snoring seat neighbors or booming vents. Even when sleeping on a plane you should pay attention to the pressure balance. For example, chewing gum can help remedy this situation.


A booking in First or Business Class offers enough space and comfort. As a bargain hunter or participant in the bonus program, it doesn’t have to be all that much more expensive. Sleeping on an airplane is instantly much easier with plenty of space, comfortable seats and more peace and quiet.

Don’t have high expectations

Sleep on the plane as well as at home is difficult, despite all the measures taken. Realize that sleep can be caught up on if need be. Even if getting a restful night’s sleep on the plane didn’t work out as you’d hoped, you can still look forward to a nice vacation or your own bed.

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