How to get a good sleep in a seat

While they say it’s not about the destination but the journey, there are some parts of travel that can feel like a boring waste of precious time. In my experience, time on planes, trains, boats and buses can all fall into this category.


Without a decent view, book or other form of entertainment the best option is often to chip away at any accumulated sleep debt. But sleeping in a seat isn’t exactly an easy task. Here are six simple ways to ensure you get a great sleep every time while travelling.


Watch what you eat and drink
While it’s tempting and can be habit to reach for a coffee as soon as you hit the road, if you want to sleep, stop and consider the other options. Opt for herbal tea, water or a glass (not bottle) of your drink of choice. Same goes for food, our body clocks rely on our eating patterns to help ascertain when we are awake and asleep. Just like you shouldn’t eat a huge meal straight before bed, try to have a light and easily digestible snack before sleeping so your stomach isn’t churning and working overtime while you’re trying to nod off.


Choose your seat strategically
Let’s be honest, there’s little to no chance of getting a good sleep when you’re stuck in the middle seat between two other passengers. Choose a seat you’re comfortable with, preferably a window one so you can hole up undisturbed and have something to lean on. Same goes for where your seat is located. Avoid thoroughfares like near doors and toilets and if there is any indication of where babies will be – sit as far away as possible! Even if it means paying a bit extra this will make the world of difference to your sleep success.


Come prepared
Sleeping in a seat is challenging enough without any additional factors getting in the way. Make sure you have a good eye mask and ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to shut out any light or sound that may prevent you from falling asleep. As they say you’re only as good as your tools!


attractive middle aged woman sleeping on a plane


Some extra support
We all need someone or thing to lean on at times and sadly with the state of many planes these days that may be the stranger next to you unless you come prepared. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep only to have your head lolling about constantly waking you up. While neck pillows may not be the most compact items to travel with they make all the difference when it comes to sleeping soundly. Plan B is to use a scarf or other soft item of clothing as a makeshift pillow – it’s still a better option than a stranger’s shoulder.


Time your travel
If I want to sleep while travelling, I’ll opt for very early or late flights so I’m naturally tired. Not only does this save you trying to force yourself to sleep but it’s less likely to have a domino effect and impact on your sleep after travelling.


Dress for the occasion
Wearing the right clothes is crucial to being comfortable enough to get some quality rest. Choose items that aren’t too restrictive, in soft and cosy materials. Make sure you have layers so you can put on a warm jumper if you get cold or remove it if you’re too hot. Don’t forget a scarf as well – this can double as a blanket to really make you feel as though you’re in bed.


Do you usually sleep while travelling? What are your tricks for getting some upright shut eye in a seat? 


Related articles:
Tech to help you sleep better
How to enjoy a long-haul flight
Make flying more comfortable

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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