top of page

Why Is It So Hard To Sleep On A Plane?

If you’re like many travelers, you want to maximize the time you spend at your destination. So you choose an overnight flight, hoping to multitask by sleeping during your flight. Unfortunately, you may barely get a wink of sleep. Why is sleeping on planes so difficult?


1. Upright Position


Unless you’re fortunate enough to be traveling in first class, you’re probably stuck in a seat that barely reclines. Sleeping while sitting goes against what your body is used to. It’s hard to relax in this position.


2. Lack of Privacy


If you don’t feel comfortable enough to sleep around strangers, you’re not alone. Many people need to feel calm and safe to be able to rest. That’s why a cozy bedroom with warm colors is so great for getting your Z’s at home.


3. Snoring


It’s hard for anyone to sleep with a neighbor snoring loudly. Interestingly, people who are prone to snore may also have trouble sleeping on a plane because they’re afraid of embarrassing themselves.


4. Pain


Sitting on a plane for hours at a time can cause neck stiffness, joint pain, lower back pain and headaches. Add the sore muscles from dragging a suitcase around and you may have a lot of inflammation to deal with. Even at home, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep when you have significant pain.


5. Discomfort


Airline seats aren’t exactly known for being comfy. There’s a reason a mattress is one of the best investments you can make. Your body needs proper support for you to get restful sleep. Being crammed into a tiny space with your arms shoved against your side is the opposite of comfortable.


6. Noise


Loud noises are one of the biggest contributors to insomnia, and flights have plenty of disturbances: crying babies, friends chatting for hours, clinking drink carts and neighbors munching on snacks. Repeated noise can also make you feel irritated, which triggers adrenaline and cortisol.


7. Dry Air


Have you ever noticed that your throat hurts and your lips crack during flights? This is caused by the cabin’s excessively dry air. Some hotel rooms cause the same problem.


8. Bathroom Breaks


Your body needs water during long flights, but bathroom breaks interrupt quality sleep. The aisle seat may mean getting up so neighbors can use the bathroom, too.


How To Sleep Better on Planes


Do your best to create a calming environment. Instead of airplane “pillows,” pack a high-quality pillow and warm blanket. Listen to calming music with noise-canceling headphones.


Wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee or sugary drinks. Choose apple juice or sparkling water instead.

70 views1 comment


As a consultant, I REFUSE to sleep on an airplane or in an airport waiting area. I was taught to be aware of my surroundings at all times. Things can happen to you when you are not awake....especially theft of your purse, briefcase with your laptop (that has confidential info on it), etc.

bottom of page