Tuesday Travel Tip: TPG readers’ best tips for sleeping in economy on long-haul flights

Jul 21, 2020

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This story was originally published on February 16, 2020. 

We recently asked our TPG Lounge members to share their best tips and tricks for getting comfortable enough to sleep while flying in economy on a long-haul flight. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

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Sticking to a strategy

Most of our TPG Lounge members described the importance of having a strategy to sleep, whether it’s sticking to regular pre-bedtime activities, packing the perfect pair of wool socks or listening to that trusty podcast that always makes you sleepy.

“I have a pocket eye mask so there’s room for eyeballs and lashes, plus noise-canceling headphones and a mini beanbag pillow so it molds to whatever funky seat I’m in. Golden. Oh, and I use my bag as a footrest.” — Lorena C.

“Bring your own pillowcase and stuff their pillows in it, as well as any down coat you bring.” — Sarah S.

“I brush my teeth — it’s always the last thing I do before bed. Whatever your pre-sleep routine is, try to stick as close to it as possible.” — Christopher W.

“One thing I always do on international flights is wear wool socks with Teva slides. The wool socks keep my feet warm and the shoes are easy to slide on for going to the bathroom. I don’t care that I look like a dork.” — Kathy R.

“Window seat, noise-canceling headphones, eye mask and a blanket. I’ll be out before take-off.” — Nikkia W.

Related: Flying Delta long-haul economy? Your service has just been upgraded

Are you one of those lucky people who can fall asleep easily on a plane? (Photo by Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steve Smith/Getty Images)
Are you one of those lucky people who can fall asleep easily on a plane? (Photo by Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steve Smith/Getty Images.)

“Trtl neck wrap, long slouchy sweater with hand pockets, a Coldplay playlist on the AirPods and wine at dinner. Got four hours of sleep in an economy middle seat that way.” — Grace C.

“Team window seat checking in! I also wear a hoodie I can turn around and cover my face with, use my blanket as a pillow, and have my noise-canceling headphones streaming the Chilled Cow playlist (seriously check it out), two glasses of red wine and 7.5 mg of melatonin.” — Kristen J.

“I get intentionally bad sleep the night before and make myself stay awake until a reasonable bedtime in my destination time zone. It’s easier to fall asleep when you’re that tired and it combats jet lag, too.” — Larry M.

“No caffeine that day, an eye mask to block out all the light, a white noise app or a good playlist for sleeping, a good neck pillow and a blanket.” — Coral C.M.

Noise-canceling headphones, a white noise playlist on Spotify (the longer the better). If I can get a workout in a couple of hours ahead of time, that seems to help. Try not to eat too heavy if you’re in the lounge beforehand.” — Jim A.

“Highly recommend the Sleep With Me podcast. It has helped me fall asleep on flights and fight jet lag, too!” — Caroline B.

Related: The best ways to get to Europe using points and miles

Packing special pillows and foot rests

Several TPG Lounge readers wrote in saying they always pack inflatable neck pillows or foot rests for that extra bit of comfort on a long-haul economy flight.

“I have an inflatable foot rest and it really helps. I have never had a problem with the airlines not allowing it and have used it for years, but I heard they sometimes don’t allow the taller ‘ottoman’ styles.” — Julie B.

“The Trtl neck pillow looks so uncomfortable but it was the first time I ever ever slept on a plane without my neck hurting!” — Logan P.

“I use a Purple Everywhere seat cushion. It greatly improves the comfort of any seat.” — Juan V.

“I bought my daughter this little neck pillow with an attached hood. She hated it, but it is my new friend. It’s a koala bear and keeps my head in place so I can sleep. I don’t care how dumb my grown koala head looks.” — Tiffany D.

Related: We tested 7 of the top neck pillows to save you from waking up stiff and sore

Do whatever it takes to get some sleep in economy, no matter how silly you might look. (Photo by frantic00 / Getty Images)
Do whatever it takes to get some sleep in economy, no matter how silly you might look. (Photo by frantic00/Getty Images.)

“I use my neck pillow backwards so it supports my head and chin. For especially long flights of 12 or more hours, I may carry two of them (one inflatable to save space) for all around support, but don’t bother most of the time. Fortunately, I can sleep almost anywhere.” — Nandini L.

“I once traveled with a $12 Ikea down pillow which came sealed in a vacuum packed roll. If you choose a window seat, you can discreetly open the pillow and lean it against the window. Best solution for attempting a night’s sleep on an overnight flight. I felt ridiculous, but, whatever.” — Rémy D.

“I put a memory foam neck pillow on top of the pillow the airline gives me on the tray table and use the neck pillow to support my face (like a massage table) and sleep face first. I have passed out for 12 hours like this but will occasionally take an over-the-counter sleep aid if I am having trouble sleeping.” — Madeline R.

“I have an awesome inflatable neck pillow that I can inflate and deflate to exactly the right consistency for the moment and the need. I think I paid $5 for that at Walmart. I bought an eye mask that’s more comfortable than the ones they hand out on the plane and also silicon earplugs for the plane and the hotel. I also love the very petite plane slippers I bought at Daiso for $1.50. They come in a little bag and as soon as I get on the plane, I take off my shoes, put on the plane slippers and they are so much more comfortable. On a recent flight home from Ecuador, I discovered that JetBlue now has a meditation program on its entertainment system. I was skeptical but tried the unguided one and it knocked me out for hours. Check it out.” — Marla J.F.

Related: United Airlines helps flyers beat jet lag with Timeshifter app

Featured photo by Celeste Martearena/Getty Images.

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