- Getting a good night's sleep on a plane can be challenging, but depending on the time and length of your flight, there may be any number of reasons as to why you might want or need to get some rest.
- There are many things you can do to try to encourage yourself to sleep and try to get better quality sleep on a plane.
- One thing you may not have considered, however, is the place you're sitting, which could potentially have quite the role to play in terms of plane sleeping success.
Sleeping well on a plane is an elusive concept for many people, but that could be because you don't know how to set yourself up for success.
From monitoring your caffeine intake to using certain products and beyond, there are a number of different things that you can do to help boost your shut-eye while en route to your destination. But one of the things that you may never have put much stock in, from a quality sleep standpoint, is where on the plane your seat is located.
"Without question, the best seat for quality sleep on a plane is the window seat," Bill Fish , a certified sleep science coach and the co-founder of Tuck, told INSIDER
"With the window, you are able to give at least some stability to your neck to keep your spine aligned that isn't possible in the middle or aisle seat. The second key is that if the person in the middle or aisle seat need to get up to use the restroom or move around the plane, you won't be disturbed."
Beyond a window seat, however, there are a few other things that you should keep in mind when determining where you might want to sit on a plane to get the best sleep possible while travelling - because there are a lot of window seats on the plane, after all.
"Next, you'll want to be seated somewhere in the middle of the plane," Rishi Kapoor, the founder and CEO of Nanak Flights, a travel agency based in Ontario, Canada, told INSIDER. "Too far back and you might be disturbed by all the foot traffic headed to the washroom or the flushing noises. Too far up front and you'll be hearing the back and forth of the flight attendants going to the kitchen (depending on the aircraft, the kitchen might be in the back) or going between first class and economy."
Window seats, generally, are the way to go when it comes to sleeping while sitting in economy, though business or first class seating will allow for better sleeping accommodations, of course.
"Before you cram yourself into the economy section of the plane on a long-haul, check to see if you are eligible for an upgrade with points," Valerie Joy Wilson of Trusted Travel Girl told INSIDER. "For example, I save all of my American Airlines miles for overseas flights where I upgrade when I know I need to get some rest. I find it to be the most useful way to spend my miles!"
But beyond just a window seat in the middle of the plane in economy or a roomy seat in first class or business class, you might have even more of a preference when it comes to the best seat for you and your ability to get the rest you need while getting to where you want to go.
"The best seat on a plane is seat 2A," Michael Holtz, the CEO and founder of SmartFlyer, told INSIDER. "Why? It's simple. 2A is a window seat, which allows for uninterrupted rest as no one will ever need to climb over you. It's also generally a First or Business Class seat.
On new planes (like AA's 777-300 or United's 787-1000) it will be a single seat with the most up to date in-flight entertainment system, which also comes with noise cancelling headphones! If travelling on a regional JetBlue or perhaps regional LATAM flight in South America, Seat 2A is an economy seat, but again, it also allows one to sleep against the window."
If you're a novice at flying or want to check out how your specific plane will look before you pick a seat, there are some tools that can help
"Use seat guru to check the configuration of your flight," Wilson said.
"The website will alert you to less than desirable seats. For example, you will want to avoid being too close to the toilets or galley areas where passengers tend to collect and chat."
Picking a seat can be important because there some bad seat options if you want to get some shut-eye
Where don't you want to be if you're hoping to get some much-needed rest on your way to your destination? There are a few specific rows that may not afford you as much ability to make yourself comfortable.
"One of the worst seats on a plane are the ones in the last row or the ones in front of the exit row," Kapoor said. "These seats either don't recline at all or only barely, and you'll be stuck in a position at 80 degrees or so the whole trip."
No matter where you're sitting, a little bit of extra preparation can help you fall asleep quickly
"Finding a sturdy travel pillow to support your neck and keep your spine aligned is key when trying to sleep on a plane," Fish said. "It isn't natural for us to sleep sitting straight up, but a quality travel pillow can give you the necessary support to somewhat relax. We would also recommend wearing an eye mask to block out any unwanted light."
Many airlines will dim the lights, at the very least, however, during nighttime hours. But if you're hoping to sneak in a little nap during a daytime flight, an eye mask can make a huge difference.
If eye masks, neck pillows, or earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones aren't enough to help you doze off, calming music, apps, movies, and more might help you relax and block out any unwanted noise by giving you something to temporarily focus on.
"Try downloading podcasts, meditation apps, and your favourite tv show to help relax you and lull you to sleep," Wilson added.
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