How To Sleep Better On A Red-Eye Flight In Economy


A red-eye flight departs late at night and lands early in the morning; it typically takes off after 9 p.m. and lands between 5 and 6 a.m. So, in taking a red-eye, you’ll be in the air overnight, when you would typically be asleep.

There are certain proactive measures you may take if you’ve scheduled a red-eye flight to avoid the challenges that come with traveling overnight. A little planning can go a long way toward improving your flight’s comfort.

Start adjusting to your destination’s time zone before your trip

You can reduce the effects of jet lag by altering your sleep routine before your travel because many red-eye flights are to locations that are in different time zones.

 If you’re planning a longer trip, try adjusting your sleep and wake times a week or two before you depart so that you may gradually grow used to the destination time.

Book the right seat for your red-eye flight

Josh Friedman, luxury travel advisor, states: “It all starts with seat selection. The kind of seat selections you have will depend on your airline, your status, and, of course, whether you’re ready to spend more to choose your seats.

The good news is that, in most cases, you won’t have to pay more for the seat you truly want because it won’t be that much more in demand.”

You need the window

According to the expert traveler and owner of ViaTravelers Kyle Kroeger: “There is no doubt in my mind that you need a window seat if you’re on a red-eye flight and trying to sleep, even though we all have varied preferences for window seats versus aisle seats.

Find a seat as far back as you can (without going to the very last row, which often doesn’t recline). The rationale for this is that the likelihood that the seats next to you will be taken decreases as you move farther back on the plane.”

Prepare yourself before your red-eye flight

While it makes me a little groggy the next day, it also allows me to sleep on the plane, which is critical for success. I take a prescription sleeping pill about 20 minutes before boarding.

I do find it helpful in getting to sleep, but more importantly, it keeps me asleep during the flight.

The second most important red-eye flying recommendation, after using a neck pillow, is to actually sleep.

Give Aisle-Mates a Heads-Up

By letting any other passengers seated in your aisle know you plan to sleep through as much of the journey as possible, you can lessen the chance of being awakened by them. They’ll be mindful not to wake you if the beverage cart rolls by.

Additionally, if there is turbulence, you might wish to clip your seatbelt over your clothing to avoid having the flight attendants wake you up to check your seatbelt.

Wear the right clothes

Wear something comfy and loose for a red-eye flight, as well as something that will keep you warm. Also, I had success with wearing a hoodie as well.

Since airplanes are often chilly, the idea is that a hoodie will keep you warm while simultaneously providing you with a place to rest your hands.

Bring the right accessories

Bring a mask, earplugs, comfy clothing, essential oils, a blanket, and a cushion to make yourself comfortable.

These things will signal to your body that it is time to sleep. If you are unhappy with the temperature, don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for a blanket or to adjust the cabin’s temperature rather than suffer in silence (as most of us do).

Book the red-eye that most closely suits your sleep habits

Many routes that are flown as red-eye offer multiple flights per day. Make every effort to coordinate your flight with your sleeping schedule. Take the 9 p.m. flight from New York to London instead of the midnight flight, for instance, if you prefer to go to bed earlier.

 But if you don’t want to sleep at all, book that 6 p.m. flight that will land you on the East Coast at around midnight (early morning in London). In this manner, you can land and receive a good “night’s sleep” in a hotel bed.

Having said that, you might need to take that timing into account when making your reservation if you intend to change your sleep schedule to better match the time zone of your location.

On short red-eye flights, skip meal service

You can eat at the airport before takeoff or after arrival, so skip dinner and/or breakfast on your flight to get the most sleep possible on a short red-eye.

To notify flight attendants that they would like to forgo a meal, some passengers even go so far as to tape a “do not disturb” message to their shirt or eye mask.

Don’t Drink Alcohol or Caffeine

Susan Melony recommends avoiding coffee and alcohol. She states: “While avoiding caffeine before a red-eye flight may seem obvious, you should also resist the common misconception that drinking a glass or two of wine can put you to sleep.

While studies have indicated that alcohol consumption causes more restless sleep and poorer overall sleep quality, a small amount of alcohol may indeed help you fall asleep at first. To stay hydrated, choose water over alcohol or coffee.

 Just don’t drink so much that you’re constantly making trips to the airplane lavatory instead of sleeping.”

Set a gentle alarm

To avoid being startled awake just before landing, avoid being jolted awake. Set an alarm for 45 minutes before your scheduled landing time so you can brush your teeth, wash your face, and drink some water.