11 Tips to Getting More Rest or Sleep on a Plane

Posted on 10/31/2016

Studies have shown that lack of sleep can decrease brain performance by 20 percent, so it's crucial to anyone crossing time zones to rest as much as possible during the flight.

1. Plan ahead, if you take the time:
  • to do things like pack
  • plan your transportation to the airport
  • arrive at the airport well in advance of your departure time
  • organize the things that need to happen at home while you're away in the days leading up to a flight -not the night before you will not be nearly as stressed-out, and sleep will come more easily.
2. Meditate

It has been shown that meditation helps the brain to relax more quickly, especially when the listener is prompted to imagine they are using all of their senses. Say, if you are guided to a beach-side scene where you imagine hearing the waves, watching the sky, and smelling flowers and the salt air, it really helps you to disengage and fall asleep

3. Ignore in-flight Entertainment
No matter how much you want to see the latest blockbuster, skip the movies and TV-the end result of staring at a screen during much of your flight means that light is hitting your retinas, and telling your brain and body that it's daytime, and sleep will be much more difficult to achieve.

4. Make to-do Lists

Write down your to-do list well before setting out. You want to get any obligations and important tasks out of your mind and onto paper so that the mind is clear while trying to rest or sleep

5. Bring Something Comforting

To get some shut-eye on a plane you want the environment to be as comfortable and predictable as possible. If you have a travel pillow you love, always pack it when travelling. Its scent and familiarity will give your brain and body a behavioral cue that it's time to relax and let go. The same effect can be achieved by a cozy scarf or sweater.

6. Cover Your Eyes

Wear a good-quality eye mask on your flight. That little bit of light from a fellow passenger's iPad two rows up can ruin your ability to fall asleep. The blue light from modern devices is very alerting to the brain, and absolute darkness prompts your body to produce melatoni.

7. Avoid Alcohol

Refrain from alcoholic beverages while relaxing in an airport lounge or on the plane.

8. Drink Lots of Water

Drink plenty of water prior to setting out on your flight so that you do not dehydrate.

9. Minimize the Noise

Make sure you pack earplugs in your carry-on. Try different brands and designs until you find the ones that feel good to you.

10. Incorporate Cardio

The relationship between exercise and sleep is very interesting. If you get enough of one, the other comes much more easily. The reality is that 40 percent of us are sleep-deficient. If you work to add an extra hour of sleep at night, you'll be much more apt to exercise, and, when you do-especially before a flight-you will be able to doze off much more easily.

11. Bank Sleep

If in-flight snoozing is simply not an option, due to your inability to rest on a plane a little bit of prep work can help you stave off jet lag. You actually can bank sleep. Prioritize your sleep before a flight, and spend a little extra time sleeping or napping in the week before you depart.