Travel + Leisure spoke to Factory Design, a company located in West London that specializes in aircraft seating and interiors about how passengers can get the best sleep on airplanes.
Ergonomic studies show that you need a flat bed to get the best rest, but if you can’t afford those luxuries in first or business class, here’s what you need to pay attention to.
Light, Noise, and Temperature
These three key environmental factors will determine the quality of sleep you will get on a plane if you pay close attention to them regardless of which class you fly.
1) Get comfortable with the temperature. If you have to wrap the blanket around your body, then buckle your seatbelt over it, so the crew doesn’t have to wake you up when the seatbelt light goes on.
2) Have your headphones plugged in and set it to the noise-canceling function. You can tune in to a soothing station to drown out the jet engine.
3) Reduce light as much as possible especially if you are traveling through different time zones. Use eyewear to block the natural light from the window or the person who is using their light to read next to you.
Wait Until the Meal Service is Over Before Sleeping
During a long-haul flight, often the first two hours there will be meal service and people will be eating, drinking, and moving around – it will be impossible to sleep. When things start to quiet down, that’s the time to take advantage of going to the bathroom and getting your body adjusted to the temperature.
Choose the Right Seat
When booking an economy class seat for your flight, choose a window seat so you can lean against the wall to sleep. Reserve a seat that gets you as far away from where people congregate the most, such as the bathrooms.
Know How to Work the Headrest
Many economy seats have headrests that go up and down as well as bend to cradle your head. This will allow you to rest your head in a comfortable position without having to bother the person next to you. If your seat does not have an adjustable headrest, a neck pillow will work just fine.
There is work being done to research how to make seats more comfortable for passengers to get their best rest. In fact, through research, design strategy, idea generation, and innovation, Factory Design has created “the Twister,” a function in the seat that will allow the passenger to twist and still feel comfortable.
Seasoned traveler Brian Kelly, aka the Points Guy, recommends that you start changing your sleep habits before your trip. He also says to wear comfortable clothes, avoid spicy foods, and turn off all your screens.
Most Important Tip
Stop worrying about falling asleep. It’s much better to assume you won’t get enough sleep on the flight than to worry about what a horrible experience it will be if you don’t get any sleep, because that’s exactly what will happen: You won’t get sleep!
Safe travels, everyone!