Pick the right seat
A window seat is the obvious choice for sleeping, and if it’s a smoother ride you seek, sit near the front of the plane. Then there’s the holy grail of airborne slumber: Sprawling across two or more empty seats. Flying at off-peak times may give you an edge. A riskier gambit involves selecting the middle seat when the seat map shows empty rows, as this may discourage others from booking on either side of you. You can typically check back to see whether the neighbouring seats get booked and change your selection if need be.
Bring the right gear
Eye masks, ear plugs and neck pillows are essential sleep accessories. To take things to the next level, consider replacing the ear plugs with noise-cancelling headphones. And if the typical horseshoe-shaped neck pillow isn’t cutting it, try alternatives such as the scarf-like Trtl Pillow, the bendable Infinity Pillow or the inflatable AirComfy Ease Pillow.
Dress for sleep success
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of wearing pajamas on a plane, go with the next best thing: Loose, comfortable clothing with full draft-defying coverage. Then again, with loungewear companies such as Sleeper aiming to popularize public displays of PJs, your fuzzy slippers may already be kosher in the stratosphere.
Be ready to snooze
Sleeping before the cabin service ends can be especially challenging, so you might as well use this time to your advantage. Visit the washroom, have something to eat and drink – no caffeine or alcohol, and not too much food – and get as comfortable as possible by adjusting your air vent and deploying a blanket with your seatbelt buckled over top. (That way, the cabin crew can see the belt and won’t wake you if it needs to be secured.) Then, when the lights go down, you’re ready to drift off ASAP.
Say no to screens
As tempting as it may be to catch-up on work or watch a movie during the cabin service, the light emitted by laptops, smartphones, tablets and seatback screens suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes it harder to doze off. As an alternative, grab an in-flight magazine and look for a story on counting sheep or watching paint dry.