A woman sleeping on a plane during her flight

How to Sleep on a Plane in Economy Class (3 Tips)

Wondering how to sleep on a plane in economy glass? In this guide I’ll give you practical tips that helped me learn how to get some sleep on airplanes.

When you are planning for a long trip, it’s essential to prepare for how you will pass the time during the flight. When the flight is really long, you will probably want to get some rest. Knowing how to sleep on a plane in economy class can important on these longer flights, if you are sitting in coach. It may not be the best sleep you’ve ever had, you won’t even get to lay down, but there are steps you can take to make sure you get some rest.

You may be worried about how you are going to get comfortable in a stiff little seat. I have some suggestions for you. You can find comfort and sleep even in economy class. These tips and tricks are to can be very useful. Read on to uncover some of the ways on how to sleep on a plane in economy class.

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How to Sleep on a Plane in Economy Class

1. Look to OTC options for help

Sleeping in economy may turn out to be difficult sometimes, and that is why it’s a good idea to consider some sleeping medicine in your plans. It doesn’t have to be prescription, there are plenty of OTC options. This may not be an idea most people are comfortable with, but a sleeping-aid fueled nap is always good for your body.

If you are considering taking  prescription sleeping medicine be sure to consult your doctor as they may be able to prescribe you something. Even if you decide to buy one over the counter, be sure to follow the medicine’s instructions.

Aleve PM, Benadryl, or Tylenol PM

Some of the over-the-counter drugs that you take at home may even work. Benadryl as well as Aleve PM might effectively help your drift off to sleep on the plane. These are over the counter if you don’t want to go to the trouble of seeing a doctor. Apart from the fact that they are easy to obtain, they are also not addictive.

These drugs have the active component known as Diphenhydramine which induces drowsiness. If you have ongoing sleep problems, this drug is not recommended for you. However, if you need to sleep for a few hours, you may want to try them. Further, this is a very common medication. I would not be amazed to find one of these in your medicine cabinet.

Try to take your medication only in the time period that is your destinations sleeping hours. Long flights generally cause your internal clock to be thrown off anyways.


You may know this one as the natural route. Melatonin is the hormone that the body produces at night when you need sleep. That hormone can help to adjust your cycle of sleeping and waking up.

Unlike antihistamines, this drug does not bring about grogginess or other effects that last for long. Instead, it shifts your circadian rhythm to adjust the cycle of your sleeping.

For Melatonin, it is also a good idea not to sleep unless it is sleeping time at your destination. You may even take another dose to help with the adjusting.

Other Over the Counter Prescriptions and Sleeping Pills for Flying

There are many more other drugs out there. Starting from at Lunesta, Ambien, to Temazepan and ending with Valerian. Despite the medication that you see fit for you, it’s a good idea that you do not take your first dose during the flight. Try to test and experiment at home so that you can know when to wake up or other side effects. Your body’s reaction to that drug is also something you should try to observe before the date of the flight.

2. Optimize your space

This is where the problem comes in. Most people do not understand how you can create a comfortable space that allows them to sleep. The first thing to do is pay attention to the seat you have been assigned. If traveling overnight, try to take advantage of the extra seat selection, it may be worth the price. With some flights, even long ones, seat can be purchased very cheap in advance or during specials.

Choose a seat you can comfortably sleep in without being disturbed, like a window seat. If you are in a middle or aisle seat then someone is going to have to wake you up to go to the bathroom. Different people vary in their levels of comfort. Depending on your support and your ability to twist and turn around, there are different strategies you can utilize to bring out the best in a tight situation.

How to Sleep in the Window Seat

Got the window seat? Perfect! I mean the only thing better than this would be getting bumped up to first class. Consider yourself lucky. This is by far my favorite seat for sleeping on a plane because you can lean up against the window. Use your neck pillow, blanket, or even a sweatshirt as a pillow. Even though getting to the bathroom will be a bit trickier, for sleeping, this is the place.

How to Sleep in the Middle Seat

This is not the best seats to sleep in. Sorry to disappoint you. However, there are tricks to maximize this space and ensure you get some sleep. Worst case, there are people to your left and your right.

This is where a good neck pillow is absolutely crucial. You can only lean your seat back a tiny bit on a plane, not even enough to keep your head upright if you fall to sleep. With a travel neck pillow it braces your neck and keeps your head upright allowing you to catch some Z’s.

How to Sleep in the Aisle Seat

This is the best seat for those who frequent the bathroom. You may, however, need to get creative on how to get the much-wanted sleep on this side. Ensure you keep your feet and elbows under the seats. Otherwise, you will be continuously run over by the carts or even attendants. There are several available options. The first is to lean your head over your knee.

Secondly, you may rest your head against the seat in front of you. Not the most comfortable position, but it works in a pinch. Overall, this seat is only slightly better for sleeping, if at all, than the middle seat. The window seat is really where you want to be.

3. Bring your air travel sleeping gear

After thinking about what you are going to carry-on the plane for your trip, it’s also good idea to keep your sleeping needs in the plan. Prepare a sleeping checklist. These are items that you should carry to get help get some rest. The good news is that they are neither bulky nor heavy. An air travel sleeping checklist might include, but not be limited to, the following items.

Travel Pillow

I can’t believe I used to not use these. On a recent trip back from Hawaii I did not have a neck pillow. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep because my head kept flopping around the whole time. Sometime later on another trip I brought a travel pillow on the plane and drifted off right after take off and didn’t wake up until we landed, it was perfect timing. Take a look at this popular one on Amazon if you need one.

An Eye Mask

Completely black everything out with an eye mask. You won’t be bothered when your neighbor turns the light on. When people see someone wearing one of these, they don’t disturb them. This one is 100% cotton and perfect for sleeping on a plane. Get total peace and quiet if you pair this with the headphones below.

Some comfortable slippers and warm socks

Especially on a long flight, your feet can hurt from being cramped up in one position for hours. Instead, consider wearing some comfy slippers like the ones in the picture and some wool socks like these. It’ll make it that much easier to take your shoes off when you’re going through security, and these have hard soles so they’re fine for wearing in public. With your feet comfortable, it’ll be much easier to drift off to sleep.


A travel scarf is something you may want to consider. Scarfs can be used for different things including a blanket or a pillow. This travel scarf is unisex, very comfortable to wear, can be used as a blanket or a pillow, and has a storage pocket. This would definitely aid in the level of comfort we are going for.

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Wireless Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones, 40H Playtime, Hi-Res Audio, Deep Bass, Memory Foam Ear Cups, for Travel, Home Office


Flying on an airplane can be noisy. There can be crying babies, the snoring of your seat-mate, the plane engines, or even the noise of the snack carts. Having a good pair of noise canceling headphones on an airplane helps tremendously to just tune everything else out.

I like these particular headphones because they are very high quality in all aspects but are still priced low enough so anyone can afford them.

Sleeping on a plane, especially in economy class, is not always an easy task. Try to apply the tips and tricks in this article to increase your chances of getting to sleep easily on your flight. Shorter flights it’s not always as crucial to get sleep on the plane. However on longer flights, like 6-8 hours or more, it’s better to try and catch some sleep. Especially if it’s a night flight.

If you really want to be sure, I suggest buying first class tickets. They may be a good bit more expensive, but the comfort level is so much higher. You’ll stand a much better chance of getting good sleep and not waking up with stiff joints.