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Tips To Sleep Better On A Plane (What To Do, What Not To Do)

Tips To Sleep Better On A Plane (What To Do, What Not To Do)

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the Sleep Market is a $432 Billion economy — and we're still not sleeping. 

While sleeping in flight isn’t ideal, sometimes we need to catch a red-eye, wake up extra early to make the first out flight, or have a delay that leaves us drained in an airport longer than our original itinerary expected. 

Anyone who’s flown before knows how uncomfortable a plane seat can be, and what a challenge it can be to grab some Zzz’s while up in the air. But even with these obstacles, it isn’t impossible to do so.

Here’s what to do, what not to do, and what to pack in your carry on, before you fly to sleep better on your upcoming flight.

What NOT TO DO to Sleep Better on a Plane

  1. DO NOT Eat a heavy meal before.

Eating too heavy of a meal, greasy foods, beans, broccoli, alcohol, and chewing gum can cause some serious indigestion and gas, therefore disrupting your sleep.

  1. DO NOT Wear open-toed shoes, loafers without socks or high heels.

The temperature changes drastically in a flight, going from cold, to hot, to freezing in the matter of a few hours of flight time. Keeping your feet covered can prevent getting cold when the temperature drops, especially in overnight flights when the sun goes down and you’re at such high elevations. 

  1. DO NOT Forget (ahem, not plan) to move, stretch or exercise prior.

I’m a huge advocate to stretch as much as possible when flying. Before, during and after. To help you sleep better, it’s better to move before you fly, breathing simultaneously with your movement, getting the body relaxed and calmer than if you just ran to your gate and hopped on board in a hurried scramble.

  1. DO NOT Stare at your phone, computer, or tablet the entire flight.

Sure, you may find a boring movie that can do the trick, making you doze off. However, just in case you find a thriller that you cannot detach from, or — gasp! — you get wifi and are still connected to your work emails and social media, it’s better to disconnect completely. Eliminate the chances of staying connected, and eliminate the blue light emitted from your devices, which can rob you of your body's natural inclination to sleep when it needs.

  1. DO NOT Book the middle seat(s), or the row right near to the bathrooms.

Lean left, or lean right, you still limited for space. The middle seat is by far the worst for sleeping, offering the passenger the least amount of personal space compared to an aisle or window. While this isn’t always avoidable, read on below in the Tips to DO section for better options. Avoid bathroom seats at all costs, as you’ll hear the opening and closing of the noisy door and toilet flushing at all hours during the flight. 


What TO DO to Sleep Better on a Plane

  1. DO fast before flying, or eat very light, easy to digest foods.

Fasting, drinking water only, or herbal tea, can be the best option for sleeping better. Remember, food is energy. When your body isn’t focused on digesting food, it can focus its energy to recoup, restore, and regenerate with better sleep. 

Eating light, easy to digest foods are best when you need to eat something. Fruits, sprouted nuts, oatmeal, or light crackers with nut butter can be a better option and easier to digest.

  1. DO dress in layers. 

As mentioned above, the temperature on a plane will vary drastically. Plan ahead with layers, to adjust to climate changes. Pack an extra blanket or scarf layer, socks and jacket too. Also, choose loose-fitting layers and shoes for better leg circulation.

Click here to see more healthy essentials to bring in your carry-on.

  1. DO stretch before you fly, particularly calming, slow movements.

When you move your body, you can guide it into a calmer, more at ease state. Combine each movement with breathing, designed to relax your body.

Click here to learn some stretches you can do before you fly to help calm your body and leave it pain free.  

  1. DO invest in travel accessories to help you sleep better

    When you invest, you can be at your best. Getting the right gear can make all the difference in your flight experience. Here’s a few must-haves in my bag for sleeping:
  • The bullbird Travel Cap with eye mask can block out light when inflight. 
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones/earbuds can take out any noise from flight attendants or neighbors. 
  • The bullbird Neck Pillow to properly support the neck in any seat or position. No more bobblehead, or pain in the neck after a flight.

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Sara Quiriconi @ livefreewarrior 
Travel Wellness Expert and Frequent Flyer
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