Sleep Like a Pro at 30,000 Feet: Mastering Airplane Sleeping Positions

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Discover the best airplane sleeping positions for a comfortable flight!

Struggling to catch some Z’s on a plane? You’re not alone! Sleep deprivation during flights can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Discover the ultimate airplane sleeping positions that will help you get the rest you need while soaring through the skies.


  • 43% of travelers struggle to sleep on planes
  • Expert tips for finding the best sleeping positions
  • Effective methods to combat sleep issues during flights
  • Insider advice from Flora Goodwin and Dr. Nitun Verma
  • Maximize comfort and rest for a better travel experience

Understanding the Sleep Struggle on Airplanes

According to a survey conducted by Expedia, a staggering 43% of travelers said they struggle to sleep on a plane. Moreover, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that only 16% of people reported getting a good night’s sleep on a plane. These statistics highlight the need for effective strategies to help passengers achieve restful sleep during flights.

Expert Tips for Finding the Best Airplane Sleeping Positions

Dr. Nitun Verma’s Recommendations

Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep specialist and medical director of the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders in Fremont, California, suggests: “The best position for sleeping on a plane is to find a seat that allows you to recline and then lean your head back against the headrest. If you can, try to elevate your feet as well to help reduce swelling.

Flora Goodwin’s Tried and True Techniques

Flora Goodwin, an experienced travel journalist, recommends the following airplane sleeping positions to maximize comfort and rest:

  • Window seat lean: Choose a window seat, use a neck pillow, and lean against the window or sidewall for support.
  • Reclined bliss: Recline your seat slightly and use the headrest for added support, along with a lumbar pillow for lower back comfort.
  • Leg elevation: Elevate your legs using a footrest or your carry-on to reduce swelling and improve circulation.
  • Modified fetal position: Sit in an aisle seat, tilt your seat slightly, and curl your legs up on the seat while hugging a travel pillow or small blanket for support.

Additional Tips for a Better Sleep Experience on Flights

To further improve your sleep experience on flights, consider incorporating the following strategies and techniques:

  • Choose the right airline and aircraft: Some airlines offer more comfortable seating options, especially in premium classes. Additionally, newer aircraft models may feature better cabin pressure and noise reduction, making sleep easier.
  • Minimize caffeine and alcohol intake: Avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol close to your flight, as these substances can negatively impact your sleep quality. Instead, opt for calming herbal teas or water.
  • Create a bedtime routine: Establish a pre-flight bedtime routine that signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. This may include reading, listening to calming music, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
  • Wear comfortable clothing: Dress in loose, breathable clothing that won’t restrict your movement or cause discomfort while trying to sleep on the plane.
  • Use white noise or soothing sounds: Use a white noise app or soothing sounds playlist to help drown out ambient noise and create a more conducive sleep environment.
  • Communicate with your seatmates: If you’re traveling with a friend or family member, let them know your plans to sleep and ask for their cooperation in minimizing disturbances.
  • Consider sleep supplements: Consult your healthcare provider about using sleep supplements like melatonin, which can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, especially when crossing time zones.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation to calm your mind and body before attempting to sleep on the plane.

By incorporating these additional tips, you’ll be better equipped to overcome the challenges of sleeping on airplanes and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready for adventure.


Don’t let sleep deprivation ruin your travel experience. By adopting the expert-recommended airplane sleeping positions and incorporating additional tips, you can ensure a comfortable and restful flight. Remember to invest in sleep accessories, stay hydrated, adjust to your destination’s time zone, and choose evening flights whenever possible. With these strategies, you’ll be well-rested and ready to make the most of your dream vacation.


1. Why is it so difficult to sleep on airplanes?

Sleeping on airplanes can be challenging due to factors such as limited space, cabin noise, changes in cabin pressure, dehydration, and disruptions to your normal sleep schedule.

2. Are there any specific seats that are better for sleeping on a plane?

Window seats are often considered the best for sleeping, as they provide a surface to lean against and limit disturbances from aisle traffic. Bulkhead or exit row seats may also offer more legroom for added comfort.

3. How can I avoid jet lag during my trip?

To minimize jet lag, start adjusting your sleep schedule before your trip, stay hydrated, get sunlight exposure at your destination, and avoid caffeine or alcohol before bedtime.

4. What are some essentials to pack for sleeping on a plane?

Pack items like a neck pillow, sleep mask, noise-canceling headphones, a light blanket, and a lumbar pillow to enhance your comfort and sleep quality on a plane.

5. Are there any sleep aids or medications that can help me sleep on a plane?

Consult your healthcare provider for advice on sleep aids or medications that may be suitable for you. Some options include melatonin, prescription sleep medications, or natural remedies like valerian root or chamomile tea.

For more comfort tips, check out our airplane outfit ideas.


  1. Expedia. (n.d.). Air Travel Outlook Report. Retrieved from
  2. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Sleep in America Poll. Retrieved from
  3. Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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