A Guide to Sleeping on an International Flight

When you’re traveling internationally, there is a high chance you are taking an overnight flight, also known as a red eye. This way, you spend the night in the air, and by the time you wake up and arrive at your destination, it’s like no time passed at all and you’re ready to take on the day. While this is a great idea in theory, in practice, it can be quite tricky. If you are a troubled sleeper, the idea of successfully falling and staying asleep on a plane is laughable. However, it is possible for you to get the sleep you sorely need, and it is worth the effort so you can arrive fresh and ready to head to that conference or meet with that client. Here, we have compiled some of the best ways to find your way to dreamland on your next international flight.

What You’ll Need

In order to follow this guide, invest in the following before your flight:

  • Noise-cancelling earbuds
  • Your phone (or whatever device you use for music)
  • A blanket
  • A neck pillow
  • A sleep mask
  • Something to read
  • A water bottle

Before the Flight

Start by preparing yourself well in advance before your flight to set yourself up for success.

  • Stick to a routine. A big reason why sleep is so difficult on flights is because it is so different than our normal routine. Travel is exciting and stressful, so this can leave us too wired to wind down. Do what you can to reconstruct your bedtime routine as closely as possible. You might brush your teeth, read a book, or drink a cup of tea—whatever you normally do before bed to help your brain realize it’s time for sleep.
  • Get cozy. You might want to dress to the nines on your flight—after all, there could be a networking opportunity, right? Well, if you are on a red eye, probably not. These overnight flights are generally pretty much silent as everyone on the plane is trying to get some shut eye. Instead, stick with clothing that you will feel comfortable sleeping in, such as sweatpants.
  • Work it out. If you have an evening flight, do what you can to exhaust yourself during the day. Try incorporating an intense workout in the morning so by the time you are snuggled into your seat on the plane, you’re ready for some z’s.
  • Stretch. If your muscles are feeling tight, it’s going to be a lot harder to fall asleep. Make a point to do some stretches before you get on the plane to better prepare your body for sleep.

During the Flight

  • Flip your neck pillow. Normally, the neck pillow goes around the back of your neck, but try this pro-tip instead: wear it under your chin! This addresses the classic problem of your head rocking up and down and waking you up.
  • Cut out light. You might want to spend the flight fiddling around on your iPad, but if sleep is your goal, you are sabotaging your efforts. The blue light emitted from electronics disturbs sleep. If you avoid screens, you will have an easier time sleeping. Try reading a book or a magazine instead to wind down, and once you are ready to get some shut eye, use your eye mask to block out any lights from other passengers.
  • Play white noise. It might be difficult for you to sleep because you are disturbed by the sounds of the airplane or people chattering nearby. With noise-cancelling earbuds and some white noise, this can be a non-issue. Simply put them in your ears and play some white noise such as ocean sounds and you won’t be disturbed.
  • Find the right position. One of the biggest issues people have with sleeping on flights is how they must sit. While there is nothing you can do to change the shape of the seats, you can find a position that will work for you. Try constructing a foot rest out of your luggage to elevate them in such a way that feels comfortable for you, and curl up in a blanket for maximum coziness.
  • Watch what you eat. What you snack on before you snooze can make a big difference in how successful you are at sleeping. Drinking alcohol or eating something high in salt or sugar isn’t going to help you sleep, so skip the snack cart during the flight. If you are looking to eat strategically to facilitate sleep, try eating a big, carb-heavy meal before you get on the flight—try to emulate that “food coma” feeling after Thanksgiving dinner.

We hope these tips help you drift off to dreamland on your next international flight. Once you land, we hope you will use our international WiFi to keep in touch with your friends and family back home! Shop Sapphire for the leading portable WiFi available online.