How to Sleep Well On Long Haul Flights

Getting enough Zzz’s can be a real challenge on a long-haul flight.

It can be tough to sleep on a plane.

But the next time you find yourself on a long haul–unless you’ve managed to book a business class flight–finding a way to get some sleep is a challenge you’re eventually going to have to contend with.

In order to facilitate that process, we’re here with a few tips to help you catch some shut-eye on your next flight.


Stay Hydrated

Falling asleep while dehydrated is already difficult enough, but waking up dehydrated is even worse. But when you’re 35,000 feet up, breathing dry, recycled air, it’s really difficult to remain adequately hydrated. Plus, when flight attendants come around with alcohol beverages, it can sometimes be difficult to refuse–alcohol is supposed to help you fall asleep, right?–but if you really want to try and get some rest on your flight, your best option is to stick to water or something packed with electrolytes, like Gatorade.

To avoid having to get up every half hour to use the restroom–which will definitely also cut into your ability to fall asleep–stick to sipping a little bit of water periodically over the course of your flight.


Don’t stay up late the night before

While it might seem like depriving yourself of sleep in order to pass out cold on the plane might be a good idea, it’s best to avoid this option. For one thing, if your plan backfires and you can’t get any rest in transit, you’re going to arrive at your destination even more exhausted. For another, disturbing your body’s natural circadian rhythm will make it more difficult to fall asleep in an environment as unusual and stimulating as the cabin of a plane.


Instead, stick to your usual amount of sleep the night before the flight, and aim to book red-eye flights, if possible.


Wear Layers

To fall asleep, the human body requires an adequate temperature:cool, but not too cold. Unfortunately, in a plane cabin–where the temperature can get quite chilly–this homeostasis can be difficult to achieve.


To make it easier on yourself, plan to wear comfortable layers on board, so you can get as cozy or cool as need be. Be sure to stick to thin layers as much as possible (an extra bulky jacket taking up your precious legroom is not going to help you sleep!), and keep in mind what normally makes you comfortable.


Avoid Interruptions

You can take a number of different steps to avoid having your sleep interrupted during the trip. Before your flight or shortly after take-off, let the flight attendant know you are planning on sleeping and don’t wish to be disturbed. Then, if you’re going to be using a blanket, make sure to buckle your seat belt over the blanket so if flight attendants come around to check, they won’t have to wake you up.

Another good idea is to avoid any screen time before trying to sleep; stow your phone and pass on the in-flight entertainment. Be sure to bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones so as not to be bothered by your neighbor.


If none of the above options seem appealing to you, you usually have the option to upgrade, using points or miles, to business or first class. With a business class flight, you’ll have access to lie-flat seats, which certainly make it easier to drift off on long-haul flights. While this option can be expensive, it’s certainly worth considering if you’re going to be on a flight for longer than twelve hours. Might as well use the time to get a good night’s rest, right?