Tips + Trends

Catching Zs: Simple Travel Tips for Better Sleep on Your Next Flight

Tired of being, well, tired after a flight? Get better sleep with six simple tips. (Photo: Alamy)

There are so many things to be excited about when booking a trip. Unfortunately, an overnight flight isn’t one of them, especially if you struggle with sleeping on a plane. The good news: Despite being packed into an uncomfortable economy seat, it is possible to get some shut-eye. On your next flight, try the following.

1. Pack an Ergonomic Body Pillow

You may fly with a travel pillow, but do you actually think it’s comfortable? The problem is most don’t actually offer proper support, not to mention your head still falls forward. If you’re really craving some shut-eye on your next flight, opt instead for an ergonomic full-body pillow that cradles your head, like the Travelrest Travel Pillow.

sleeping on a plane
Better sleep awaits with a cozy full-body ergonomic pillow like the Travelrest Travel Pillow. (Photo: Courtesy of Travelrest Travel Pillow)

The pillow looks like a soft seat belt that attaches around you or your seat. It becomes wider at the top to gently hold your head in place. If you’re a minimalist, you’ll love that it can be deflated and rolled up to clip securely to your luggage.

2. Load Your iPod with ASMR

Also known as “autonomous sensory meridian response,” ASMR refers to a euphoric tingling that typically starts in the head and moves down the body for deep relaxation.

It’s brought on by triggers — soothing sounds and sometimes gentle gestures — like tapping, scratching, whispering, page turning and a simulated spa treatment giving you personal attention.

If the idea of getting your ears massaged by a stranger via your iPod sounds weird, scroll through YouTube and you’ll see that top ASMRists like GentleWhispering, ASMRRequests and Ricky7Whispers have hundreds of thousands of followers (because their voices are drug-free, sleep-inducing magic!).

sleeping on a plane
Listen to relaxing apps through comfy headphones, like SleepPhones. (Photo: Courtesy of SleepPhones)

Tip: ASMR is best enjoyed with SleepPhones, soft, pillowy headphones you can lay your head on.

3. Download Relaxation Apps

Technology can keep you awake, whether from Facebook addiction or screens emitting blue light that disrupts snooze cycles; but sometimes it can also help you sleep. Take, for instance, relaxation apps.

One to download before your next flight is Sleep Machine, which features a library of stereo sounds, ambient sounds and ambient music to choose from. You can play up to three tracks at one time to create your own sleep inducing soundtrack.

There’s also Pzizz, which has a similar concept but through binaural beats, a phenomenon in which two tones create the illusion of a third tone — the binaural beat — being present. Interestingly, ancient cultures even tapped into the powers of consistent rhythmic beats, using them for relaxation and healing (though they typically used drums instead of iPhones).

Finally, Headspace is a must-download app for any fliers who have ever said, “I can’t meditate.” The app is like meditation for dummies, teaching you exactly how to reach clarity and quiet those inner voices for easier plane rest.

4. Shut Out Distractions

A soft eye mask and ear plugs go a long way in making an airplane nap a possibility. For extra comfort, wear a shawl scarf to the airport, which doubles as an airplane blanket (since these are often not always free on planes anymore).

5. Get the Right Seat

Avoid sleeping near bathrooms where people often congregate (and lean on your seat like you’re not even there!). Instead, try snagging the bulkhead or emergency-exit row for more legroom — often with no added charge — and enough space that your seatmates won’t disturb you when getting up.

You can also download the Seat Alerts app from ExpertFlyer, which shows you color-coded airplane maps so you can see which seat offers the best napping possibilities. It also alerts you when a seat you want opens up. Remember, there’s no industry standard on things like legroom and pitch, so oftentimes the amount of sleep you get could be increased with a seat change.

6. Reap the Benefits of Aromatherapy

There’s actually a science to pleasing smells, with some researchers finding that when you breath in essential oil molecules they activate parts of the brain relating to mental, physical and emotional well-being. To make sure your aromatherapy is TSA-approved, pack Aromaflage Sleep Spray, an all-natural mixture of French lavender, Brazilian rose and Madagascar vanilla essential oils.