Many people are taking long-haul flights and at some stage during the flight will hopefully get some sleep, but this is not always the case. As most of us fly economy and don’t have access to first or business class seats/beds we are forced to adapt to cramped economy conditions and often get off the plane with a sore neck and other aching body parts. Well here are my 10 tips to make yourself comfortable in your seat so you get some decent sleep during your long-haul flight. This blog was originally published in April 2018 but I have updated it and republished September 2019.
Preparation begins on the ground
Preparation begins before you get on the flight. How true! Some of these simple tricks can help you survive a long-haul flight.
- When you book your flight you may want to book a flight that leaves at night that way you may be sleepy.
- Try choosing your seat at the time of booking. Some seats have more space such as those with bulkheads and near exists. There is a great website SeatGuru you can check out before you book your seat. It allows you to type in your flight and it will show you the best seats on that particular plane and also those to avoid like those close to the toilets.
- Avoid stimulants like coffee and alcohol on the day of your flight. Stop drinking them at least 6 hours before your flight.
Avoid stimulants on the plane
So you have avoided stimulants on the ground also avoid them during the flight, that is if you want some sleep. You could invest in a herbal relaxant such as Valerian or ask you doctor for a sleeping tablet.
Choose the best position for your body
Have you ever pulled your meal tray down and put your head on it to sleep? Well don’t do it again, it is bad for your lower back. It is recommended the best body position is to recline your chair, lean back and have support for your neck (see further) or if you have a window seat lean against the side of the plane. Sit with your legs together and bend your knees slightly. Do not cross your legs as crossing them could lead to pain later on and can increase your chances of a blood clot as it restricts the flow of blood.
Use a travel pillow
I love my travel pillow. For years I have had a travel neck pillow and believe me they work. I know they look embarrassing but hey, I swear by mine. It helps me tune out and when it is time to tune back in the pillow has helped support my head and neck and I wake up able to move my body and without aches and pains.
I have recently discovered a different version of the pillow, it goes around your body and I found it extremely comfortable. You can order yours in our Travel Shop.
Block out plane noise
Blocking out noise such as the constant hum of the plane, those screaming kids and people chatting and moving around the plane is a must. The quieter you can make it the better you can sleep. So invest in a pair of ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
Block out light
There can be a lot of light on the plane from daylight coming through windows to overhead lights of people reading to light from TV screens and other electronics. Having an eye mask will definitely block the light out and remind your body it is night time and it should be asleep.
When flying at 40,000 feet the air cabin can become cold. Definitely wear layers of clothes so you can put them on or take them off. Put a blanket over you as well – best under your seat belt so crew don’t wake you during turbulence to tell you to buckle your seatbelt. Take a pair of sock to keep your feet warm.
Wear compression socks
Compression socks won’t make you sleep better but wearing a pair can help reduce the effects of getting Deep Vein Thrombosis from having your legs dangling. They can also keep your legs warm. We have some you can purchase through our Travel Shop.
Advise crew not to wake you
You can advise the crew that you don’t want to be woken during meal times (and at other times like during turbulence). I have heard that some airlines such as Emirates provide a do not disturb sticker you can put on your chair or yourself to let crew know you want to sleep through a meal service. How cool is that!
Little extras for comfort
For your own comfort take little things on the plane like lip balm and eye drops as the recycled cabin are can be very drying. Also some face wipes to freshen up not only your face but other parts of your body. Deodorant and a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen the mouth. These things may not help you sleep though if I had dry lips annoying me knowing I had lip balm may help me relax, but these things can help you feel refreshed.
Here’s hoping with these tips you will have a better sleep on your next long-haul flight. Happy flying!
If you didn’t get much sleep on the plane then lets hope you have accommodation booked so you can get to fast and get some sleep. I like to have accommodation booked and I use HostelWorld if I want a bed in a hostel or Booking.com for those times I want a room to myself or I am travelling with my family. You can book also through the links following.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.