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- Airplanes are not the most comfortable place to fall asleep.
- But, if you like to travel, chances are you’ll have to endure a few red-eye flights and bad night’s sleep in your time.
- We can’t make those cramped seats any roomier, but we can recommend some products that will hopefully make your flight a more comfortable experience. Find our seven essentials we rely on to help us fall asleep on airplanes, below.
Bright lights and loud announcements; noisy neighbors and crying children; barely enough legroom to actually fit your legs… Traveling by plane isn’t always the most comfortable experience, especially when you’re trying to sleep.
In the past month, I’ve taken a few red-eyes — both domestic and international — and was quickly reminded how difficult it is to get some shuteye in the air. After a rough six hours of tossing and turning, I wondered — how do some people do it? To find an answer, I decided to turn to a reliable crowd of frequent flyers and discerning shoppers: my coworkers.
Truth is, there are some things about flying you can’t change. The guy sitting next to you may decide to keep that bright overhead reading light on the entire flight. Turbulence might jolt you out of a great nap. A flight attendant might have to wake you up for a number of reasons. While all of this is out of your control, you can get some of that control back with a little preparation and the right products on hand.
Below are seven products we actually use to help us sleep better on flights, whether we’re trying to get a full night’s sleep on a red eye or a quick nap in on a short trip.
A hooded pillow for support and comfort
Head and neck support are of course important for getting comfortable enough to fall asleep on a flight. But if you’re sensitive to other stimuli like light and sound, you might not be able to fall asleep even if your head is propped gently. This soft pillow has an attached hood so you can really shut out the distractions of your fellow passengers, the aisle lights, and the hum of the cabin. Unlike sleep masks, which can be restrictive and uncomfortable, the hood falls lightly over your eyes and almost tricks you into thinking you’re under your covers at home. – Connie Chen, Insider Picks Reporter
A quality set of earplugs that help you get some peace and quiet
When I was researching for a story on earplugs more than 10 years ago, I found the ones by Etymotic Research to be my favorite. Since then, I’ve taken these earplugs with me whenever I fly long-haul, to silence the engine noise and crying kids (my fellow passengers would be wise to do the same, to cancel out my snoring). Designed for musicians or anyone situated in loud environments and recommended by many audiologists, these Etymotic earplugs are comfortable to wear (the little handles may be bothersome for side sleepers) yet let in just enough sound, like the overhead announcement. Unlike the cheap foam earplugs (those also work well in a pinch, as they’re easily found in any drugstore), these are reusable.- Les Shu, Insider Picks Guides Editor
A sleep mask that blocks out bright light
I rarely bring a travel pillow on a flight because I find them difficult to carry, but I won’t step on the plane without an eye mask. The Bucky Eye Mask is my go-to for a number of reasons, but the main perk to this one is that I can open and close my eyes while it’s on due to the bubble-like shape of the product. This also means that if I have mascara on my eyelashes, it won’t rub off or get messed up as it would with a traditional eye mask. I appreciate that there is a tight seal on the outer rim that completely seals out light, along with the ability to adjust the mask to fit my head.- Megan Foster, Insider Picks Intern
I usually have no problem falling asleep with the lights on, but something about the harsh, artificial light on planes makes it impossible to keep my eyes closed for more than a few minutes. I love these sleep masks most for their unique shape — they’re contoured into somewhat of a protective bubble over your eyes. Flat sleep mask tend to make my face feel somewhat suffocated, so I appreciate that this design lets me blink, open my eyes, and all around just feel a little more free in the eye area.- Remi Rosmarin, Insider Picks Reporter
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