92770239 - tired passenger sleeping on the airplane at window seat

You can be one of those annoyingly happy people too…

Unless you’re seated in one of those increasingly luxurious flat beds up front, the idea of sleep on a plane seems like some sort of cruel joke to most travelers.

Anxiety about arriving looking like a derelict, and worse, sleeping through a holiday in its entirety with jet lag is one of the big things that keeps travelers from enjoying the more exotic destination around the world, despite lower airfare than ever.

If you want a fighting chance at getting some sleep in any airplane seat, follow these easy, logical tips…

the seats in an airplane


Simple? Yes. Overlooked? Also, yes. On any plane, the window seat is the only seat on the plane where you control your own destiny.

Sit in the middle, you may have the window stepping over you. Sit on the aisle, you’ve got at least two passengers to worry about. If you want to tuck into a corner and enjoy uninhibited sleep, a window seat is unquestionably your best shot.


Depending on your lifestyle, it’s not often easy to doze off at the ripe hour of 2pm. If you want to easiest ride to sleep, pick a ride that flies during times you’ll naturally want to. Simply enough, right?

It’s always important to consider sleep schedules at your destination to avoid jet lag, but if you can find a 9PM flight, you’ll find it a lot easier to conk out than a 3PM. Be sure to prepare mentally for what time it will be at your destination, as well.

a piece of raw tuna on a plate


Especially on short overnight flights like East Coast to West Coast, or USA to Western Europe, meal time is rarely worth it. By the time you’ve been served and had your food cleared away, you have wasted multiple hours of sleep.

If you really value quality sleep, eat in the airport, or better yet – at home before the flight. It’s only plane food, after all. This is a major reason airlines started to offer pre-flight dining to business and first class passengers, to help create great sleep. If people have a great rest, they’re more likely to fly again.


If you can’t have a bed in business class, why not snag one in economy? Using apps and a little bit of airport savvy, it’s pretty easy to figure out if any rows are going empty, and if you find one, you may just end up with three or four seats to stretch out across. Here’s how to play the game to your advantage and score a bed in the back.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with politely asking a cabin crew member if there’s an open row you can move to, once boarding is complete. You may not get the answer you want, but you just may!

a view of the wing of an airplane

Melatonin Or CBD

If you chat with enough frequent travelers, you’ll hear this one quite a lot. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone which can help sync up your sleep cycles and circadian rhythms.

It’s 100% natural, available over the counter in most countries and is considered the best natural “sleeping pill” out there. Melatonin and some chamomile tea and you’ll be out like a light.

As cannabis related products become more mainstream, so too has CBD, which offers tranquility without any of the hallucinogenic effects, and is legal in many frequently traveled countries.


On more than a few days this year, there have been opportunities abound to book business class, or at least premium economy for lower prices than economy.

It doesn’t sound like something that would really ever happen, but for a few hours, every once in a while – it happens. Never book a flight without at least glancing at the other price columns, and be sure to follow these easy tips to never miss a great flight deal.

No joke, I recently saved money by buying first class instead of economy. Here’s proof.

a row of seats with monitors on the back


When you walk into the economy cabin, it often looks pretty decent at first glance – and that’s because the bulkhead, or first row of any cabin is almost always really decent.

Legroom is far better and the proximity to the door of the plane makes these seats a treat. For a long journey, paying that extra little bit to secure a bulkhead or exit row can make all the difference.


Why rely on others when you can bring your own eye mask, ear plugs, blankets or personal pillows. Neck pillows sold at the airport are almost always useless as a neck pillow, but a decent pillow from home to push between the seat and the cabin walls can be a total gem.

a bed in an airplane


Did you know that quite a few airlines let you upgrade international plane tickets with miles? 20,000 points can be the difference in premium economy and business class, or even from economy to business class.

Check out this article on airlines with the friendliest upgrade policies, and see what can be done to get the most bang, errr sleep for your travels. This is one of the greatest ways to turn modest budgets into immodest comforts in the sky.


Most happy travelers share one thing in common: noise cancelling headphones. A good set of noise cancelling headphones can mute babies, engines, noisy neighbors and make great content sound even better.

A wireless pair only adds to the fun. If you want to get serious about blocking out sleep distractions, investing in a decent pair is life changing.

What’s your best tip for sleeping on planes?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Take an antihistamine pill. The air is dry on planes and makes your nose stuffy, sometimes. Use the pill to clear the nose and it also can make you fall asleep.

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