Hacks on How to Sleep on a Plane revealed!
We all know how annoying can be staying awake for the whole flight. Getting no sleep on a plane at all can be a horror. Especially when you have a super busy schedule after landing. Lack of sleep inside the plane can literally destroy your vacation, particularly those short ones. So, this is really important to know how to get some shut-eye when you have a big day ahead of you.
That said, there are some really cool hacks you can use to make your next plane trip more restful and then have a great time at your destination place. Here are 4 of our favorite flight sleep hacks that have actually worked for us.
Sleep on a Plane Hack #1:
Choose the right place to sit
This one is the tricky one. You may think that the best seat to sleep on a plane is located at the window. Or even worst. Thinking that you can’t do anything to choose a seat you want unless you spend extra hundreds of dollars. Fortunately for all traveling us none of it true and we will tell you exactly why.
If you ask a random person what is the perfect spot in the plane to seat the answer will “by the window”. Everybody wants it for the astonishing view through the window during the flight. But ask yourself how many times you’ve looked out through the window while being onboard, particularly during long-haul flights. Probably a few times, during take-off then in the midflight and finally when landing, of course, if the weather outside is ok. That’s it.
But you may say: so, if it’s not worth for the view there is another great advantage of these places- nobody disturbs you when their wants to use the bathroom or just lengthen a little bit. Although it sounds reasonable it’s worth to look at this problem from another perspective. From your personal perspective.
The most important rule to have a good sleep on a plane is to feel relaxed and being calm. We will explain it in more details later. From your perspective, when choosing your seat, the most important thing is not to be restricted by anyone or anything when you onboard.
Seating by the window, having often two more people blocking your way out is definitely not the most comfortable setting in the aircraft.
First, because it’s more difficult to ask people to move out. Sometimes even wake them up when you have to use the restroom.
Second, because it’s not healthy at all to be in your seat throughout the whole flight. Especially long one, more than 3 hours.
Third, because when there are people blocking your way out you must ask them every time you want to move. And this makes you feel uncomfortable so subconsciously you’re trying to avoid asking and moving.
So you try not to provoke the situation when you have to ask them to go e.g. to the toilet. You drink less and getting dehydrated really fast. It’s terrible your comfort and health which, consequently, making you feel even worst. Finally, when you fell wrong you can’t fall asleep.
Choose your seat in advance
Since we know that seat by the window is not the best place to choose, and assuming that anyone is aware that seating in the middle is the worst possible option, with one exception that we describe below, what we have left is… an aisle seat- today’s winner.
Having an aisle seat allows you to feel cozy and comfortable, and the most important, not being restricted by the other people. Don’t be afraid- your sleep on a plane won’t get worse because of that as you used to say. It will get even better!
Now, knowing which seat in the row you should choose another question is, which row is the best. Of course, it depends on the aircraft but a good rule of thumb is that if it’s a turboprop engine aircraft- you should choose the back row and if it’s a jet engine aircraft the fronter the better.
Fortunately, you don’t need to google aircraft’s engine type. The only thing you have to do is to go to the SeatGuru and put there your ticket’s details.
And if you don’t have your ticket in front of you, you can also search by your destination place. Here is an example of me searching for the flights from San Francisco to NYC.
Within a second you will see a beautiful map of your next flight aircraft with a recommendation which seat is the best to choose and which you should avoid.
Now we know which place is hot and which is not! It’s time to book the seat of your interest or rebook it, if the system allocated you wrong. Now, we will tell you how to do it and how to do it (mostly) for free!
Mostly, because this method may not work in some low- fare airlines. However, if you going to take a long-haul flight you can easily use this technique. Both in the economy or business class.
The technique is pretty simple. The only thing you have to do is to be in front of your computer 24 hours before departure. For most routes, you can print your boarding pass up to 23-24 hours prior to departure from your own computer at home or have your boarding pass sent to your mobile device.
This is a moment when you can choose the seat you like or change the one that was assigned to you. So first check your aircraft at SeatGuru and then book the most convenient seat for free via your carrier website!
Sleep on a Plane Hack #2:
Stay hydrated = avoid alcohol
This is really crucial one and we’ll tell you why it impacts your sleep on a plane. The air outside of a plane at 35,000 feet that is being taken to the cabin, for you to breath, tends to be extremely dry, with a humidity of only 10-20%. Compared to the comfortable level of 30-60% humidity that most people are used to, this tends to reduce the level of water inside our organisms.
Another enemy of us trying to stay hydrated when we are in the air is an alcohol (unfortunately). Check our latest post why alcohol and sleep are false friends. An alcohol decreases the body’s production of an anti-diuretic hormone, which is used by the body to reabsorb water. With less anti-diuretic hormone available, your body loses more fluid than normal.
When you drink an alcohol, you should drink a glass of water between beverages. You should do this in the pub and after coming home from a party. However, inside the plane, especially when you seat is not an aisle seat, you tend to drink less water. It is because you have to ask a flying assistant for it and then ask your neighbors to move so you can go to the toilet.
Why Stay Hydrated at all?
But why staying hydrated is important at all? Without food, we are able to survive for a few weeks, but without water- only a few days. Our body does not have a large supply of water, so we must systematically supplement it. Water is a component of every cell and tissue of our body. It is also necessary for the various physiological processes, also these that take place when we sleep.
You can notice a slight dehydration of the body just after losing 1-2% of total body water. We then observe not only lower physical performance but also mental efficiency.
Even if you fall asleep, being dehydrated, you wake up feeling that it was not a restful sleep. This will be accompanied not only by increased thirst but also by headaches and weakened concentration.
In conclusion, try to avoid alcohol onboard. and if you decide to drink some, after each glass of wine or can of beer drink at least one cup of water. If you plan to drink alcohol on a plane you can also consider taking with on onboard isotonic drinks. No matter if you drink alcohol or not drink at least one cup of water per each hour of flight. If you try to sleep on a plane the long-haul flight, drink a little bit more before falling asleep. It makes your organism hydrated while asleep.
Sleep on a Plane Hack #3:
Don’t try to fall asleep to hard
Many people can’t sleep in planes just because they overthink it. They think what will happen when they won’t have enough sleep. How it will ruin their vacation or business trip. By doing this, they make things even worst. They’re putting themselves in a stressful situation which stops them from falling asleep.
A right attitude to your journey and your ability to fall asleep on a plane is one of the most important factors determining how restful your sleep will be. What you think has a tremendous impact on whether you fall asleep or not. There are many ways to help you fall asleep once you are ready for it, in your bed or sitting comfortably in your plane seat. Here, are some effective techniques:
You need to get out of your head all negative thoughts related to falling asleep. For many people to keep the night slept, it is enough to say in their mind “I will sleep well today” instead of “I will not fall asleep again”.
Instead of worrying about getting sleep on a plane, from the very beginning, when you sit relaxed, think positively. You may think that it was a great day, you are going to a great place and in the meantime, a great night sleep (or a great day sleep depending on the time zone you’re crossing) is waiting for you. Relax and really believe that you fall asleep quickly today.
Once you know that this particular night will be good a good one, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and imagine an object. You can start with a fruit, apple for example. Look closely at it. Watch every single detail- color, size, shape. Involve as much sense as you can. Touch this apple and feel its skin and weight. Breathe it, taste it, feel it. Focus on the object you visualized and hold this image for a few minutes. If you find yourself thinking about something else, go back slightly to the visualization you’ve started. It is important to engage every sense in this process.
The exercise above is the perfect example of a concentration task you can practice not only when onboard but every night! It will help you control your thoughts. This allows you to fall asleep anywhere you want, including planes, because it is your thoughts what keeps you up at night.
Your mindset has a huge impact on your sleep. Recent studies have shown that you can even cure some types of insomnia using online cognitive- behavioral therapies so don’t underestimate these techniques! They are really powerful!
Moreover, if you ever had a problem falling asleep onboard take a closer look at your regular night sleep. If it repeats also on the ground, implement practices described above on a daily basis.
Sleep on a Plane Hack #4:
Jet lag and Light Therapy
This hack is dedicated to the long- haul travelers. When you cross multiple time zones you will experience jet- lag. It will be more or less severe but you can be sure, you will experience it! Unfortunately, we can not prevent the occurrence of jet lag. The only thing we can do is to weaken the effects of changing time zones.
First of all- start preparing for your trip a few days before departure. It is important to regulate the rhythm of the day so that certain activities are always carried out at the same times. Try to increase the length of your of sleep before travel. It will allow you to regenerate more before the trip.
When we travel across multiple several time zones, we disturb our internal biological clock that is controlled by melatonin – a hormone secreted by the pineal gland located within the brain. The proper circadian rhythms depend on the presence of melatonin in our blood. Light blocks the secretion of the hormone, while night and darkness favor it.
One of my favorite method that can help your body control melatonin while traveling is a light therapy. It should be started a few days before the planned trip. By applying the light of appropriate brightness on a specific time we can regulate the level of melatonin. This helps our body adapts to the destination time zone clock.
If you want to learn more about the light therapy for beating jet lag, check our last blog post about this topic.
That’s all folks
And that’s it! 3 hacks that have been tried and tested. They’ve helped us and our colleagues at long-haul business trips stay productive and fresh. Just remember, no hack is a good replacement for everyday healthy sleep. So, start with that. Improve the quality of your regular sleep. It will be much easier for you to sleep on a plane as well!
Physician, Founder and CEO of Neuroon Open . Passion for mHealth, IoT and wearable in healthcare.