These Items Will Increase Your Chances of Falling Asleep on a Flight
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According to an Airplane Etiquette Study from Expedia, 48% of Americans “cannot generally fall asleep on planes.” That seems about right. I’ve polled random rooms on the topic, and responses are usually split down the middle. The sleepers are mystified by what the big deal is, and the non-sleepers are green with envy.
I’ll speak on behalf of the non-sleepers: catching meaningful sleep on an airplane seems like a superpower. I’m about as likely to jump out the loading window and fly myself to my final destination. Airplane rows are getting smaller, economy is a Wild West of seat recliners and small bladders, and flight attendants now hawk $7 pretzels down the aisle every 45 minutes.
It’s a shame, because sleeping on a plane is pretty damn crucial. Whatever is waiting on the other end of your trip — vacation, family, business — was important enough for you to spend a lot of money and hurtle through the sky for. You deserve to have your full cognitive abilities when you land, unhampered by the stresses of in-flight insomnia, or the woozy aftereffects of a failed melatonin/wine/Nyquil cocktail.
To that end, we’ve identified a range of products that will give you the best shot at falling asleep. From our favorite pair of travel pants, to a pillow that could pass for a neck brace, to a pair of Danish slippers, these will give you a puncher’s chance at scoring at least a few hours of shut-eye. We specifically chose products that work in tandem with each other; meaning, you could theoretically buy all of these products (for less than a round-trip flight to Italy!), and use all of them on the same flight. And with special attention given to weight, portability and comfiness, you’ll be the most content middle seat in a minute, trust us. See our picks below.
Rumpl Stuffable Travel Pillow Case
According to at least one loquacious flight attendant, not all pillows and blankets are washed (or replaced) in between flights. Even if they were, we wouldn’t recommend relying on materials with the backbone of a cocktail napkin to help you fall asleep. Rumpl is a respected name in the camping space, and their travel pillow is basically a beefed-up pillowcase. It’s made from ripstop polyester, covered in fleece, and stuffable. Meaning, while there is insulation, you can also cram your sweatshirt in there for maximum comfiness.
Mack Weldon Ace Sweatpant
Last month, we rounded up the best pants for long travel days. Essentially, they’re trousers that feel like pajamas but don’t look like them. One of our favorites were these sweats from the leaders of the better boxer brief revolution over at Mack Weldon. It’s a micro-sanded French Cotton, which means the yarns are uncommonly soft, and it tapers a bit down the leg, though not as aggressively as joggers. Don’t complain about not being able to fall asleep on a flight when you’ve been wearing jeans. Your pants should be as soft as your sheets.
Cocoon CoolMax Blanket
A good travel blanket is hard to find; it’s gotta be light and portable, but it’s also gotta keep you warm, especially if the yahoo next to you keeps his air vent on for the entire flight. This offering from Cocoon is up to the task, and notably, an Amazon review darling. We sifted through dozens of five-star reviews, looking for someone to rip into it, but the most negative the internet was willing to get was to say it’s not a great camping blanket. Fair enough. Don’t bring it to Yosemite, do bring it on your Thanksgiving flight to the in-laws’.
Lahgo Restore Sleep Mask
Lahgo is the men’s outlet of Lunya, a Santa Monica-based brand that specializes in washable silk sleepwear. They’re big fans of pima cotton (also known as Sea Island cotton), which is a long-staple cotton known for extra-soft, flexible fibers. Lahgo uses it in their men’s sleep layers, and in their sleep mask. Most sleep masks are a rash of plush fibers, which can easily overheat your head, with an elastic strap that tails around the back of your head. Lahgo’s mask is more like a headband, with a pima-polyester blend meant to move as you do, keep you cool, and keep the world out.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
This is a personal preference thing. We’ve noticed that a less obtrusive in-ear headphone, which still cancels noise, can be more conducive to sleep than an over-ear headphone — which can be sweaty and get in the way of a pillow or a sleep mask. If you’re an AirPods person, the AirPods Pro is now out and a great option. We’re partial to the Beats Powerbeats, which feature a pair of ear-hooks for keeping those things nice and wedged as you’re asleep. They’ll last for nine hours of listening time (a full night’s sleep!).
Trtl Travel Pillow
Elongating the body and protecting the spine is a massive, unheralded aspect of fitness these days, especially when we spend most of our week hunched over screens. It’s debilitating, and the funky poses we all make while sleeping on long flights — when our heads hang forward at right angles — aren’t helping. Trtl’s determined to change that, with a pillow that looks more like a neck brace. Here’s what it looks line in action; the fleece harness lets you tilt your head to the side, and will keep you from jostling around in the way that a $12 Hudson News neck pillow never will.
Glerups Camp Sole Shoe
One of our selections for the best travel shoes out there, Glerups are a family-owned Danish brand that uses Merino wool from New Zealand to make plush slip-ons that naturally shed fabric until they’ve molded perfectly to your feet. They’re antimicrobial, which means you can’t make them smell, no matter how hard you try, and they’re comfy as hell. Subtly removed your pups from them once you start drifting off, or leave them on. That optionality removes the foot claustrophobia you can get when trying to fall asleep in a pair of tightly-laced shoes.
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