10 Best Tips You Need To Know To Sleep On A Plane

Are you one of those lucky people who can fall into a deep sleep on a plane? I used to be, what feels like a lifetime ago, but the past ten or fifteen years I have really struggled with sleeping on planes even on long haul international and night flights.

Air new Zealand Evening flight over clouds
Air New Zealand flight at sunset

When you take long international flights and don’t sleep it can often cost you the first day or two of your trip, with debilitating jet-lag and travel fatigue.

If you can’t fall into a deep sleep when you fly there is still considerable value in getting some quality power naps. The following tips will help you to either get some good naps in during your flight or to get into a decent sleep.

How To Sleep On A Plane

1. Bank Sleep.

Avoid boarding your flight exhausted. The more tired you are the harder it can be to fall asleep. I used to work right up until the last minute and would end up boarding my flight too exhausted to sleep. Then I would be stressing about not getting to sleep, which in turn kept me awake.

Now I bank sleep in the week leading up to my flight. Even catching an extra 15 to 20 minutes sleep per night can make all the difference in the world, and believe it or not actually help you to drift off during the flight.

2. Go Easy On The Booze…

Alcohol can dehydrate you during a flight and stop you from falling into a decent sleep. Ideally don’t drink any alcohol on a flight you want to sleep on, but if you have to have a glass of wine with dinner, stop at one. Sleep specialists disagree with the concept that a few drinks will lull you into sleep, arguing instead that they will keep you awake.

Your body starts to dehydrate while you are flying anyway, but compounding it with alcohol can really make you feel hellish when you land, even if you have drunk yourself into a slumber.

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3. Avoid Salty Snacks

Choose your snacks wisely. Salty snacks like chips and nuts and sugary snacks like cookies, candies and sweetened food bars can also prevent you from sleeping and cause your body to dehydrate and swell up. Your best bet is to pack healthy snacks that are easy to digest and that are low sodium/salt and low sugar, and ignore the salty snacks on the beverage cart.

4. Be Very Careful With Sleeping Pills

Plenty of doctors will write you a prescription for a sleep aid, but proceed with caution. Make sure you take any sleep medication for a test run prior to flying. Some sleep medications can leave you feeling drowsy and lethargic when you land, others don’t end up putting you to sleep and just leave you feeling drugged and foggy.

Be very, very careful not to combine alcohol and sleeping pills as things can really go sideways at 35,000 feet. Be especially careful taking Ambien when you fly. If you have ever witnessed someone get crazy on Ambien you will know what I mean here. Google Ambien Zombies and you will see what I mean. There are endless stories of passengers getting naked, climbing on other passengers, wandering around planes in a drug stupor. And they have zero recollection of it once the drug wears off.

Last summer I had a house sitter go crazy on vodka and Ambien while I was in Italy. She has zero recollection of it, but during a 36 hour rampage wrecked tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage on my house. I had to take out massive loans to get my house fixed. I cannot imagine what would happen if that kind of crazy occurred at 35,000 feet! Technically the flight crew could put the passenger in restraints, but the screaming and carry on would continue throughout the flight. Don’t let that be you.

5. Dress For Comfort

I’m a big believer in looking stylish or at least decent when I fly (always channeling the business class upgrade!) but at the same time dressing comfortably. I avoid flying in jeans or anything too fitted or restricting. Most people swell when they fly, so jeans that are totally comfy on the ground can become torture devices during the flight.

angelina jolie always has perfect travel wardrobe
Angelina Jolie always looks good at the airport, while still dressing for comfort during her flight

If you are flying in the main cabin you have very limited space to get comfortable in so it is important that you aren’t overly constricted by your clothing. Wear layers that you can add on or take off accordingly, and be aware that planes can get very cold. It doesn’t hurt to have a soft sweatshirt or hoodie that you can roll into a pillow. I have yet to find a neck pillow that actually is even remotely comfortable…

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6. Time Your Slumber

This is more of a jet-lag /travel fatigue avoiding measure, but having a plan in place seems to help with actually getting to sleep too.

As soon as your flight takes off change your watch to the local time at your destination, and try to adjust your sleep time accordingly. Try to time your sleep for nighttime at your destination. That can mean trying to sleep during the first half of a flight going east or the second half of a flight going west.

So if you are flying Los Angeles to Singapore, sleep the first half of your flight, and if you are flying Los Angeles to Rome sleep the second half of your flight.

7. Choose Your Seat Wisely

It is definitely worthwhile paying a little extra to choose your seat, and as most travelers are already clued in to this that means booking your seat when you book your flight.

economy cabin boeing 777

Window seats give you a wall to lean against, aisle seats mean you have to get up each time the middle or window seat people want to walk or go to the bathroom.

Exit row seating tends to have more legroom but there is nowhere to store a bag during takeoff and landing.

I use an app called Seat Guru to find the best seat on the plane. Some are too close to the toilets so get both noisy and smelly. Others don’t have full recline or have entertainment units under the seat in front, cancelling out your legroom and ability to stretch.

8. Explore Your Seat

I always see other passengers not using and not knowing about the features their seats offer.

Some planes have seats with more features. Check to see if your headrest bends to hold your head (saving you neck pain). Some seats don’t just recline, but the bottom slides forward, giving you even more comfort. Premium Economy typically has a bar that drops down below the seat in front of you, allowing you to raise your feet. Having your feet raised even a few inches changes not only comfort, but swelling, and can help avoid the dreaded DVT – this is huge. Make sure you are not front row Premium with no seat in front!

RELATED POST: WHAT IS DVT?

There are lots of features on newer plane seats that can make a huge difference in your comfort level, which in turn can help you to sleep. Every little detail counts!

9. Accessorize.

There are a variety of accessories you can bring along to help you get to sleep.

Ear plugs or even better, noise cancelling headphones, not only tune out neighbors conversation but also the incredibly annoying, sleep preventing, engine hum.

Sleep masks will help block the blue light from other passengers’ TV screens.

Fitglam Natural Silk Sleep Mask

Essential oils can help you fall asleep and also knock out any unpleasant smells wafting around. If you suffer from allergies the pressurized air in the cabin can wreck havoc on your sinuses. A little eucalyptus oil on a cotton pad can work wonders to keep you breathing clearly and alleviate sinus pressure, in turn helping you sleep.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket airline blankets can be totally sketchy, so you always want to have a scarf/shawl/pashmina that you can use as a blanket or bundle up in to keep you warm.

10. Download Sleep Apps.

Download a sleep assisting app prior to departing.

From yoga nidra to binaural beats to apps like Sleep Pillow that allow you to create white noise playlists of different water and rain sounds, there are tons of sleep enhancing apps to put on your smartphone.

I have dozed off on plenty of flights listening to the sound of rain pattering away on a tent on my Sleep Pillow app!

Hopefully these tips will help you get some shuteye on your next long haul or overnight flight! If you think of any others please leave them in the comments section below.

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101 Fabulous Things To Do in Rome ~ Now In Paperback!

I’m super excited to tell you that my new book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome is now available worldwide in paperback!

Best Rome Travel Guide Book Glam Italia 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome
Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome, now available in paperback

Wherever you are in the world you can order it on your local Amazon and it will ship directly to you. (Amazon has exclusive rights to my books)

So far Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome has been doing really well. It is the Number 1 New Release in Rome Travel Guides, Vatican Travel Guides, Italy Travel Guides, Malta (because of the Caravaggio stories in the book), has been a Best Seller in Rome Travel Guides – there have been days where it has outsold Rick Steves! Amazon called me to tell me that it had been charting high every day and was outperforming expectations. So I am pretty excited!

RELATED POST: WHY THIS IS THE BEST ROME TRAVEL GUIDE!

Paperback or Digital?

The book is available both in paperback and on Kindle/Kindle App. If you are not sure which is the right version for you, this may help you decide:

DIGITAL:

The digital version of the book is available on Kindle and the Kindle App. I don’t own a Kindle, so I use the app instead. It is on my phone and my iPad (so any smartphone and tablet, and I think laptops too). This is actually how I read books now, everything goes to the app and I read them on my iPad, even library books! It is fantastic for travel and has just become really convenient at home too.

Personally I don’t read books on my phone, I prefer a bigger screen. But it does come in handy when you are out sightseeing and want to pull up information quickly, especially if you don’t have Wi-Fi or only have limited or slow Wi-Fi. This is super useful when you want to order food or wine, are trying to remember where I recommended for Instagram pics or sunsets in Rome, or are at some historic site and want to get the scoop on it.

PAPERBACK:

The only exception to my reading digital is when I buy travel books. I like to highlight things, dog ear pages, put post it notes in there and I tend to write in the margins too. So if that’s you then a print copy might be your best choice.

RELATED POST: GLAM ITALIA! HOWTO TRAVEL ITALY
the best travel guide for Rome, Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome

What Is Matchbook?

Amazon lets me set the book to Matchbook, so that you can get a digital copy for cheap if you order a print copy.

They set the digital to $2.99 if you already have the print version. (The digital is $8.95 at the moment and will go up next month to $9.95)

When you are out sightseeing all day it can be a nuisance carrying a book with you. That’s where matchbook comes in handy. You can download the Kindle App and get the book on your smartphone, for cheap. You’ve already done your research and know which places you want to visit, so now instead of carrying the book with you, you can just pull it up on your phone on the app and go directly to the chapter you need or the place you are standing in front of.

It can be quite handy. Also, the Matchbook option stays there, so you don’t have to buy both versions at once, instead you can just download the digital version later if it looks like it will be beneficial.

Take A Photo!

If you have the paperback version of either (or both!) of my books and are taking them with you when you travel, please snap a photo of yourself with the book and post it on social media (tag me) or email it to me. I get a huge kick out of seeing my readers with the books. Many of you have emailed me or messaged me on social media to tell me you are doing something from one of the books, and I can’t tell you how much it totally makes my day!

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Socials

You can find me on Instagram @CorinnaTravels and @HowToTravelItaly

My Pinterest is @Corinnamakeup. You can find all my Italy boards there, broken up by region. I find it easier to spot the content I want to read for my trips when I can look at visuals (pins) rather than reading through text lists.

On Facebook you can find me @Corinna Cooke Author

BONUS: Want some help planning your trip? Download my FREE RESOURCES to help you plot out your trip, and PRE TRAVEL CHECKLISTS to get you to the airport stress free. DOWNLOAD HERE

Underground Rome And Why You Need To See It!

Did you know there is an entire city below the modern city of Rome?

Underground Rome, ruins from 3rd century A.D
Underground Rome, ruins dating to 3rd century A.D.

After two millennia of accumulated dust and dirt, building and rebuilding, filling in old buildings with sand and dirt and rocks and building something new on top, the current city sits as much as 25 meters above the various old cities.

Underground Rome, the city beneath the city. Ruins of a 4th century chapel
Heading below street level into the ruins of a 4th century chapel in Rome

If you stand at street level and look down into the Roman Forum you will see what I mean. It seems as though every time they go to build something new or dig up the basement of a property to do routine repairs they find some new site dating back to antiquity. In fact, 90% of the old city hasn’t been excavated and probably never will be.

RELATED POST: MUST SEE IN ROME _ NERO’S DOMUS TRANSITORIA

In my new book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome (available worldwide on Amazon.com) I have an entire chapter on Underground Rome, with 10 really cool places to go below ground and experience the ancient, ancient city.

2000 year old mosaic floors in the city beneath rome
2000 year old mosaic floors in underground Rome

It is honestly one of my favorite things to do. Walk around the city below the city, seeing 2000+ year old mosaic floors and inlaid marble floors.

2000 year old roman homes below the current city of Rome
Walking through an area of ancient Roman homes and apartments, dating back 2000 years. These ruins are underneath the modern city of Rome

First century frescoes and frescoes that date back to the Republic. Plaques and columns and sarcophagi  – they’re all down there!

frescoes in Teatro Pompeo date back to 55 B.C.
Frescoes underground in Teatro Pompeo date back to 55 B.C.
RELATED POST: WHY YOU NEED TO SEE PALAZZO VALENTINI IN ROME

I take my Glam Italia Tour groups to a variety of these places. One of them is a 4th century chapel below a current day working church. It still has frescoes dating back to the 300’s on the walls.

ruins of a 4th century chapel in underground Rome
These ruins of a 4th century chapel are underneath a functioning church in Rome

Normally we are the only people down there. This nice old man who has been working there for as long as I can remember has to unlock the door and turn on the lights to let us in.

1st century sarcophagus below the city of Rome
First century sarcophagus in underground Rome

Meanwhile right up the street there are thousands of tourists waiting in line to get a postcard photo of a famous site (albeit with a bunch of other people’s heads in the frame), completely unaware of what is quite literally beneath their feet!

RELATED POST: THE BEST ROME TRAVEL GUIDEBOOK!
fresco'd ceiling in Nero's Golden Palace in underground Rome
Frescoes on the ceiling of Nero’s Golden Palace date back to 64 A.D.

In Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome I tell you about Pompeo, his rivalry with Julius Caesar and the huge theater he built back in 55 B.C.

column in teatro pompeo, rome
This column dates back to 55 B.C. and is in the ruins of Teatro Pompeo, beneath a restaurant in Rome

Julius Caesar was actually assassinated in the curia of Teatro Pompeo, which backs onto Largo Argentina. (I tell you where to find this in the book).

ruins of teatro pompeo below the city of rome
Ruins of Teatro Pompeo (Pompey’s Theater) below a restaurant in Rome. I tell you where in the book!

I also tell you about a restaurant that sits atop the ruins of the other end of Teatro Pompeo, where you can go downstairs and walk around inside the ruins. It is mind blowing!

ruins of teatro pompeo, 55 B.C.
Part of Teatro Pompeo, dating back to 55 B.C. sit below a restaurant in Rome
RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

If you are making a trip to Rome, be it for a day or for a month, I highly recommend picking up this book and using it to find all manner of totally fascinating places, most of which will be a short walk down the street from where you will be going anyway.

sarcophagus in underground rome
Sarcophagus in underground Rome

Read the chapter on Underground Rome and do your best to get to at least one of the places to experience the subterranean city. I can pretty much guarantee there will be almost no one down there, so not only will you get to experience something really sensational but you will also get to escape the crowds!

See you in Rome!

How would you like to end your day in Rome with a glass of something fabulous at one of the city’s stunning rooftop bars? I have made a downloadable PDF of my absolute favorite rooftop bars in Rome. Each of these bars are stunning and offer a gorgeous view of the Eternal City. Download your PDF of The Best Rooftop Bars in Rome HERE

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