Traveling 101: How to Sleep on a Plane

Full disclosure: This is a life skill I have yet to develop

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If you are over 5’2” (157 cm) and try to sleep on an airplane, I wish you luck. Truly. You know what it’s like. You board a plane and suddenly you’re in a vacuum-sealed incubator. Unfortunately, it’s not an incubator of ideas, but one of smelly sock feet and infinitely reverberating noises.

Some people will get on a plane, recognize this, and then tune it out by opening their computers and behaving as if they had never left their desks. Others will use it as coveted free time and whip out copies of Jonathan Franzen or the new Harry Potter. And yet others, those lucky ones, will snuggle into their seats and drop off into a slumber that will not to be budged until the plane once again makes contact with land.

For the sleepers the incessant whir of jet engines and electronic bings composes the sweetest of lullabies. They are at one with the Virgin Airways or the great Jet Blue.

Their childlike peace only reminds me that, in coach, I am stuffed into the equivalent of a high-chair with a tray in front of me to catch my spills and a seat filled with trash until a caring adult comes to clear it up for me. While the sleepers’ dignity seeps out with their drool, they remain unfazed. I, on the other hand, watch myself slowly lose my dignity, one bathroom break at a time.


Of course for the sleepers, I have no doubt that there is plenty of Lunesta and Ambien circling through their veins. However, I suspect that many of them simply slip into oblivion. In their quiet worlds they float through the heavens, simply waiting to reunite with us mortals on the other side.
I can only conclude that, as a species, the sleepers are evolved.

It is on this higher plane that I strive to be. I want to exist in this world where plane slumber is a form of meditation from which you wake to feel refreshed and energized to begin the next leg of the journey.
But why is it so hard to get there?! After all, people have been sleeping in odd positions since humanity began. We may as well consider pillows, blankets, and soft mattresses a fad for the length of time that they have been around. When did we lose this skill and suddenly require luxury to be allowed to relax and restore?

Furthermore, why did consumers allow for such cramped quarters to become the norm for air travel? When did we acquiesce to being shipped like cargo across borders while those who sit 25 feet in front of us and shell out astronomical fees are allowed to recline in what I would consider a comfortable living room chair.

However, we made our beds and now we must lie in them. In the meantime I seek a solution to this problem. Plane sleep is a crucial life skill in today’s society. Whether it be for business, pleasure, or family, being able to sleep soundly on a plane flight is both an impressive and necessary skill. Having the satisfaction of acquiring it is a life goal that I am steadily working on. It is, however, one that I have yet to master.

Have you mastered the art of plane sleep? If you have, I desperately need your suggestions! Comment and share them with me!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. BIGtinyWorld says:

    I’m also 5’2″! I feel your pain. I usually don’t sleep on planes, generally because I feel duty-bound to use the time for productive work (like photo processing or blog drafting). I can sometimes slip away if I’m lucky enough to wind up in a window seat, but even then, I better have a pillow to not wrench my neck into a pretzel. Most of the time, I just don’t try; I watch 5 movies instead, which is clearly a much better use of my time.


    1. Jessica says:

      I completely agree. Clearly 5 movies is the absolute best use of time! However, yes photos and blogs somehow always manage to occupy the great part of flights for me as well. I will always be jealous of those snoozers though!

      Liked by 1 person

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