How to sleep on a long-haul flight

There is nothing worse than arriving at your holiday destination exhausted.

How to sleep on a long-haul flight

There is nothing worse than arriving at your holiday destination exhausted and grumpy. These tips for getting a good night’s sleep while flying will help you to make the most of your trip.

One: Tire yourself out
Don’t get on the flight jittery with nerves and inactivity and expect to sleep. If you can, do some exercise on the day of your flight. Not only will you be tired and more likely to sleep, the endorphins will also help you to relax.

Two: Get comfortable
Two hours into your flight nobody will care what you look like, including you. You’ll just be regretting those tight pants which yes, admittedly, do make your stomach look flat, but they also cut into your midsection something shocking. Nobody could be expected to sleep like that. Bring a tracksuit, or even your pyjamas, in your carry-on luggage. Remember your thick fluffy socks and, when it’s time to hit the hay, go change in one of the onboard bathrooms. I guarantee everyone else will be jealous as you drift off in cosy comfort.

Three: Sit back and relax
Part of drifting off to sleep is relaxing beforehand. Make use of the in-flight facilities. Choose a movie you think you’ll really enjoy and sit back with a glass of complimentary wine. You don’t have to finish the movie, either. If you can feel yourself getting tired, just pause the movie, settle in, and you can go back to where you left off later in the flight.

Four: Dark and quiet
If you talk to any sleep hygienist, the first thing they will tell you is that a dark, quiet environment is ideal for getting a good night’s sleep. This may not be possible if your neighbours are reading with the light on or talking to one another, so step onto the plane prepared with ear plugs, an eye mask and a neck pillow for extra comfort.

Five: Do not disturb
Most aeroplane seats come with a do-not-disturb sign, or you can let the air host know that you wish to sleep uninterrupted. Being woken up from a deep sleep can make you feel awful, and you may not be able to drift off again, so try to avoid this scenario.

Bonus tip: for those who really struggle to sleep on long-haul flights, most chemists do sell natural herbal relaxants to help you drift off with ease. If you are going to take these, or anything stronger, be sure to alert your doctor beforehand so you can ensure there are no mishaps with mixing medication or nasty side-effects.


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    12th Feb 2014
    Thanks for the useful tips. I've invested in some high quality noise cancelling headphones and they really do make a huge difference - they get rid of all that horrible white noise. My sleep routine on long flights is put the headphones on with the inflight relaxation/meditation channel, a good eye mask and a neck pillow, it works well.

    12th Feb 2014
    I've found the best system for getting a good sleep on a long-haul flight is to go business class! - those lie-flat beds on the Boeing 777 are incredible! They even have an inbuilt vibrating massager!
    Watch for specials on business class, particularly on the ME airlines. I got seats on Qatar, in first class from Cairo to Doha, and business class from Doha to Perth, for less than $2000.
    Out of the 30 or something seats in the business class section, there were only 9 occupied seats, including my partner and myself! From Cairo to Doha, we were the only passengers in the 1st class section!
    Watch out for the Airbuses that don't have full reclining seats in business and first, though. It's pretty disappointing to find your 1st class seats don't fully recline.
    23rd Apr 2014
    Aaron !! You insensitive bourgeois brat !! If it were not for us sardines - who can afford ONLY economy - business class bums wouldn't even get off the ground.
    12th Feb 2014
    I 'd like to know how it is possible to sleep when we are packed in like sardines in a seat that does not recline enough....
    13th Feb 2014
    Thanks for the "Tips" as you see it, unfortunately it doesn't happen in real life. For instance on m first flight to Canada I was in the centre row which was three seats across. This meant hat the chap who was in the middle seat kept snoozing and at the same time '"falling" onto me. The hostess with the least who happened to be on duty could do nothing to help with the rsult that I had the hell bashed out of my arm which was on the outside & therefore leaning over her space when she paraded up & down the aisle. I was almost glad to use the ladies room at least I was able to be comfortable for a few moments the reulst being eeeewhen we got off tge plane in Hawaii where we were to be transferred to another plane I passed out while we were lined up I arrived in Canada to br transportd from the plane in a wheel chair. So much for resting on some planes I did rest on the second one had the double seat to myself. That's when I learnt the best lesson book a window seat. At least then YOU ARE ABLE TO USE YOUR NECK CUSHION TO SLEEP.
    13th Feb 2014
    I've never traveled on a long-haul flight myself, but the thought of sleeping soundly is surpassed by the thought of half waking to pass wind, forgetting where I was, or not even realising I had done just that.
    Obviously it doesn't bother anyone else, but I'd hate to asphyxiate my near neighbours!
    I suppose if everyone had earplugs they wouldn't hear it, but it's pretty hard to disguise the olfactory results, as I have found after being a recipient of the above on trains.
    Is there something in the water or air on planes that discourages this activity, or is that why travelers avail themselves of the liquor provided? Pass out and know nothing.
    What are the secrets to a blissful long-haul sleep please?
    23rd Apr 2014
    Done dozens of trips between Melbourne Australia and London, usually 23 hours. My best solution is to accept the fact I won't get any sleep, put the eye patches and headphones on, and program about 20 hours of relaxing music. A meditative state is almost as good as a deep sleep. Also, I must accept that, just for today, and all on my own, I can do nothing about the bourgeois parasites in business class with enough leg room for half a dozen giraffes. Our day will come, though. Parasites out, sardines in!!

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