Nine tips to help you sleep on a plane in coach

Written by Travel Tips

Flying in coach over a long distance has its challenges. If you have trouble sleeping on a plane, try one of these hot tips next time you fly.

Whether travelling for business or leisure, it’s how we arrive that can make all the difference to how quickly we settle into our new time zone.

Here are nine of our best tips to help you arrive at your destination just that little more refreshed and relaxed.

1. Non-stop flight

Try to book a non-stop flight or the most direct route, to get you to your destination. Having to stop on the way or changing aircraft can be disruptive to our sleep patterns.

2. Seat belt over blanket

I learnt this little trick the hard way. When resting, ensure your seat belt is buckled over the top of your blanket. This way, if the seat belt sign comes on during flight, the cabin attendants can see you are already safely buckled in and will not need to wake you.

Aircraft seatbelt.

Aircraft seatbelt.

3. Comfortable clothing

Loose, comfortable clothing is a must when travelling long distances. Don’t wear anything too tight or that will potentially wrap around you when you shift or move. Pack some sweat pants and a jumper into your carry-on bag and change after take-off. This way you will also have fresh clothes to change back into before arrival.

4. Choose your seat wisely

Choose your airline seat wisely

Choose your airline seat wisely

As soon as you book your flight, reserve your seat as far ahead of departure as you can. If you have to pay for seat selection, it may be a worthy investment so you are not seated near the bathrooms where people gather, or the noisy galleys where food is prepared.

Also, select a seat forward of the wing to help reduce the engine noise and use a website such as SeatGuru to help find the best seats ahead of time.

5. Time of departure

If you’re not a morning person, choose a departure time later in the morning or afternoon so you can rest naturally prior. Or select a flight time in the evening. The trick here is to not upset the natural sleep pattern where possible.

6. Travel pillow

There are many travel pillows on the market, but not all pillows are created equal. Just like selecting a pillow for your bed, invest in one that is right for you. Avoid pillows with beads inside as they can be noisy when you move.

Consider a pillow you can manually inflate so you can adjust the firmness to suit. Our hot tip – try putting the pillow in front of your neck, so your chin rests on top. This will stop your head from bobbing up and down when dozing.

7. Extra legroom seats

Consider a seat with extra legroom, such as the exit row or bulkhead, so you can stretch out. If selecting an exit row, just beware of the location that it’s not near a natural gathering place such as bathrooms. There is nothing worse than someone kicking your feet while you’re trying to rest. The bulkhead seats generally have a divider with no seats in front of you, but these are often the baby bassinet location too.

Virgin Australia economy bulkhead seats.

Virgin Australia economy bulkhead seats.

8. Mask and plugs

Consider purchasing an eye mask to remove traces of light, and a pair of earplugs to block the noise will also help.

9. Noise cancelling headphones

My favourite ‘must-have’ travel accessory is noise-cancelling headphones. They are a great way to reduce ambient aircraft noise and passenger chatter, and make it easier to listen to music or movies throughout the flight. There are many on the market, but consider the full ‘over-ear’ headphones for comfort and to ensure they don’t fall out of your ears when sleeping.

Bose headphones.

Bose headphones.

The one sure way of getting restful sleep on your flight? Purchase or cash in those frequent flyer points to upgrade to a business class seat. To maximise the opportunity, ensure your airline provides seats that convert to a lay-flat bed.

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