How To Sleep On a Plane – A Pro’s Guide


When you spend a good amount of your time up in the air, it’s vitally important to not only sleep on the plane, but get that good sleep, especially on dreaded red eyes. After much practice and experimenting with products I’ve become somewhat of a professional, I even get compliments from my seat neighbors at how amazing I slept. Upon landing, one person admitted he literally thought I might have died so he poked me, apparently I moved slightly proving to him my heart was still beating, and then went right back into my plane coma. Impressive, I know. But I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Silk Eye Mask

For me this is an absolute necessity because I can’t sleep in any light, I need a black out situation. The best product will be made of 100% silk, not only does the material feel the best, it also doesn’t cause lines on your skin like other materials, it’s also much better at keeping in moisture, which is a major score in the battle against in flight dehydration (more on that soon). You also want something with adjustable straps that do NOT use anything with velcro, not only do they not stay in place well, they also rip out your hair. My pick is Alaska Bear (Buy Here)

The Proper Plane Pillow

A very close 2nd in importance. Most of the pillows they sell in airports are garbage, save yourself the neck ache and buy one before your trip. What you want to look for is memory foam and a skinner back so your head isn’t lolling forward. My pick is the Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow – The Best Neck Pillow with 360 Head & Neck Support

Book a Window Seat

Sure you have to inconvenience people to get out of your way when you need to get to the aisle, but that’s what they signed up for, not you. Having the window seat also makes you the official Window Keeper, you get to control the shade and you can also lean your pillow against it.

Noise Cancelling Head Phones

I have never gotten ear plugs that worked, so for me, it’s all about the noise cancelling headphones. Because I adore babies and children, just not when they’re having meltdowns (which babies and children will have) for hours when you literally have nowhere to escape to. If you too are not lulled to sleep by the sound of screaming children, spring for a good pair of these. But if you don’t heed my advice you do NOT get to parent shame by giving dirty looks or comments and make a mom or dad feel even worse than they already do over a situation they have no control over. 
These bad boys are considered the best on the market. At $349 they’re too rich for my blood as I tend to lose literally everything, but if any one is shopping for me for Christmas, I’ll take my chances. Or I guess, your chances.  Buy Bose Noise Canceling Head Phones For Me For Christmas

The Right Outfit

I have rarely been on a flight that was the perfect temperature during the full duration. It’s either too warm, or my extremities are in danger of freezing off. So layer up with super soft fabrics (I stick to cottons and cashmeres, stay away from denim, blends, and anything with buttons at your waist). But if you forget these pieces you can always wrap a blanket around your head and secure it in place with the head phones like so.
And if you are wearing open shoes always remember a nice pair of socks, nearly impossible to sleep properly when your feet are turning blue.

The next 4 tips are not only great for sleep, they’re also great for your skin. When you fly, the air inside the cabin is a lower humidity than normal. Your home is likely between 30-60% humidity, inside an airplane it can drop to less than 20%. During longer flights, cabin humidity dips even lower. 

No alcohol.

Booooo, yeah, yeah, I know. But if you want your best sleep in general, stay away from the booze as it messes with getting into deep sleep. But also, as discussed above, the plane’s lack of humidity is already dehydrating you, so put alcohol in the mix and it’s not just going to mess with your sleep, it’s going to mess with your skin. Nobody wants to start their trip, either business or pleasure, bloated, puffy and exhausted, and I speak from personal experience.


Now this you should binge drink. Get in a lot of it the day before and on your way to the airport so you don’t have to chug it all down right before your flight and then have to pee every five minutes annoying the people in your row (because you booked a window seat).

Rose Water Spray

Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness of irritated skin, get rid of acne, dermatitis and eczema. It is a great cleanser and aids in removing oil and dirt accumulated in clogged pore. My go to is Mario Badescu.

And finally, we get to the last resort…. Drugs.

Obviously I sometimes use them as evidenced by the picture of me swaddled in a Delta blanket. I only use them if I need guaranteed red eye sleep so I won’t ruin the entire next day. For plane rides under 8 hours I am anti-Ambien, because if I am woken up before that I am so groggy and out of it I can barely get off the plane. But if you do choose Ambien, take your dosage after takeoff,  NOT while on the runway, especially if you are traveling alone. You have to be ready for sleep within 20 minutes of taking Ambien or as the label warns: 
After taking AMBIEN, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night…Reported activities include: driving a car (“sleep-driving”), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex, sleep-walking.”
Unless you want to make some new friends at Homeland Security, these are all things you do not want to do on a plane or in an airport. I had boarded a plane and thought I was in the safe zone, and just as I was about to pass out we had to change planes because of a mechanical failure. Don’t ask me how I got off the plane, about the walk to the other gate or re-boarding because it’s beyond hazy. Apparently I didn’t try to fly the plane, but I definitely do not feel comfortable that I was walking through an airport like a total zombie. This advice also goes for any anxiety medication, I understand that many people are anxious fliers and they need something to calm their nerves. Just know before hand how your body responds to the drugs and that there’s enough time for it to wear off before landing. Or you may wake up and find yourself the last person on a plane after allegedly telling the flight attendants who tried to wake you that you “need 15 more minutes.” Just a for instance. 

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