Neck Support Pillow and Other Airplane Sleeping Hacks

Hand pulling down or up window blinds during flight.
by Anisa // 20 Comments

Let’s face it, sleep is a crucial component to feeling good and staying sane. As someone who gets grouchy and impatient without enough shut-eye, I know firsthand how important it is to catch some z’s. However, catching some quality sleep on an airplane in economy class can be quite the challenge.

After enduring countless sleepless flights, I’ve discovered a tricks that have worked wonders for me, including the use of a neck support pillow and other long-haul flight essentials. Trust me, you don’t have to sacrifice your precious sleep while flying economy.

So, keep reading to learn more about my top airplane sleeping hacks and say goodbye to sleepless flights for good!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more information.

How to Sleep Better on Your Flight

For the longest time, I used to avoid overnight flights like the plague because I just couldn’t sleep on a plane. But sometimes, we don’t have a choice, especially when it comes to long-haul flights like those from the US to Europe.

Surprisingly, I’ve actually grown to appreciate red eye flights because they let me save precious daytime hours for exploring. And when you’re able to get some good rest on the plane, you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to take on your adventures. So, after years of trial and error, I’ve discovered some helpful tips and tricks for getting better sleep on long-haul flights.

Anisa using her neck support pillow to help get some sleep on a flight. - "Neck Support Pillow and Other Travel Sleeping Tips" - Two Traveling Texans
Anisa using her neck support pillow to help get some sleep on a flight.

Bring a Neck Support Pillow and Eye Mask

I know it might not be the most stylish thing, but bringing a pillow with you on a plane can make all the difference in getting some quality sleep. Personally, I swear by my trusty neck pillow – it keeps my head from jerking and ensures my neck is properly supported throughout the flight. Plus, you can even spin it around to support whichever direction you prefer to sleep in.

Trust me, when you’re comfortable, you’ll be able to get some much-needed shut-eye. And if you’re looking for a fun way to show off your personality, there are plenty of pillow options out there, from cute unicorns to sports team logos.

I went with a Texas Longhorn neck support pillow to represent my school pride, but you can find whatever suits your style. Investing in a good travel pillow has been a game-changer for me, and I highly recommend it. Want to see some of the best travel pillows for airplanes? Check out the latest prices on Amazon here!

When it comes to sleeping on a plane, some people swear by using an eye mask to block out any light that might be keeping them awake. Personally, I’m not bothered by light, so I skip the eye mask.

However, if you’re someone who struggles to sleep with any kind of light shining in your eyes, the Sleep Master Sleep Mask (pictured above) might be worth checking out. It’s a popular option because it’s easy to adjust, lightweight, and made of breathable cool satin. Of course, everyone’s sleep preferences are different, so you should do what works best for you.

If light bothers you and you think an eye mask could help, consider packing one for your next flight. Want to see some of the best sleep masks on the market? Check out the latest styles and prices here!

Chose a window seat

Let’s settle the debate – window or aisle seat on a plane? For me, I always try to snag a window seat for a few reasons.

First off, nobody will wake you up to go to the bathroom – I’d rather be the one doing the waking than the one getting woken up!

Secondly, you can lean on the wall of the plane for some extra space. If you lean into the aisle, you’ll risk getting hit by the beverage cart or someone walking by.

And last but not least, it’s just nice to be able to look out the window and take in the views. I’ve even captured some amazing photos from my window seat!

If a window seat isn’t available when you initially book your flight, don’t worry – check back closer to your departure date. Sometimes, new seats become available even just a few hours before the flight takes off. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t give up hope!

I was able to get some great aerial shots of London thanks to my window seat and a clear day! - "Neck Support Pillow and Other Travel Sleeping Tips" - Two Traveling Texans
I was able to get some great aerial shots of London thanks to my window seat and a clear day!

Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers

It is important that you think about what you are going to wear the day that you travel because you need to be comfortable.  I find that wearing a casual dress with leggings works well for me, but the key is to choose something that’s not too tight or restrictive. If you’re looking for more tips on how to improve your comfort on a long flight, be sure to check out these suggestions too. 

When the plane is in flight, you can pretty much guarantee it is going to be cold! I personally don’t like the thin blankets provided in economy class, so I prefer to bring a jacket, sweater, or scarf with me to stay warm.  In fact, I love this scarf with a hood and pockets!

If you’re traveling on a long haul flight, also consider wearing compression socks to reduce your risk of blood clots and swelling.

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Recline your seat

Don’t we all wish airplanes had beds? Unfortunately, they don’t. But, on long haul flights, I do recline my seat a bit to make sleeping more comfortable.

I try to be considerate of my fellow passengers and only recline my seat during times when most people are sleeping. Even if it is just a little bit, I think it does make it easier to sleep.  Sleep is the priority here.

Just be sure to have your seat in the upright position during meal times to avoid disturbing others.

Bring headphones


If you’re planning to catch some shut-eye on your next flight, I highly recommend bringing either headphones or earplugs. Personally, I prefer headphones because I can listen to music or watch movies without disturbing my fellow passengers (gotta follow that air travel etiquette!). Plus, they’re perfect for drowning out any unwanted noise, watching movies, and helping me drift off to sleep.

If you’re in need of some new headphones, check out the top headphones for airplane travel here.  You might need an adapter like this if you want to use your wireless headphones with the inflight entertainment system.

Bring Drinks

Staying hydrated is key to feeling your best during air travel, so be sure to drink plenty of water the day of your flight.

To keep up with your hydration needs while in the air, I recommend bringing a refillable water bottle with you. This way, you can stay hydrated while also being environmentally conscious. Many airports now have refill stations, so you can easily top up your bottle before boarding the plane.

Remember, water is your friend when it comes to air travel!


Click here to see the different refillable water bottle options available on Amazon.

Keep in mind, everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine and alcohol. If you know drinks with caffeine or alcohol will make it hard to get good quality sleep, it’s best to avoid them on the day of your flight. However, if you can handle caffeine and alcohol without issue, feel free to enjoy  in moderation. Ultimately, the key is to listen to your body and do what works best for you.

Bring snacks

It’s tough to get some shut-eye on an empty stomach, so make sure you have some snacks or a meal with you on the flight. Although airplane food has gotten better, it’s still a good idea to pack your own food, especially if you have dietary restrictions or food allergies.  And if you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out these fun and healthy snack ideas to keep them satisfied during the flight.

I always bring snacks, usually granola bars, popcorn or a trail mix so I have something just in case.  Click here for more travel snack ideas

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:  Packing Tips to Maximize Your Travel Fun

Sunset at Heathrow Airport in London before the long flight back to New York City. - "Neck Support Pillow and Other Travel Sleeping Tips" - Two Traveling Texans
Sunset at Heathrow Airport in London before the long flight back to New York City.

Don’t take a sleeping pill

While it may be tempting to take a sleeping pill to help you doze off, it’s not recommended. It’s essential to get up and stretch every four hours to prevent the risk of blood clots. If you’re asleep from taking a sleeping pill, you could miss important safety instructions, which is not worth the risk. Remember to prioritize your health and safety when traveling.  

Read about my experience taking Ambien for jet lag.

Airplane Sleeping Hacks

Getting quality sleep on a plane is possible with a little planning and effort.  By choosing the right seat, wearing comfortable clothing, bringing along noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, staying hydrated, and avoiding sleeping pills, you can increase your chances of getting some shut-eye during your flight.

Remember to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you, and don’t forget to stretch every few hours to prevent the risk of DVT. With these travel sleeping hacks, you can arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready for your adventures ahead!

Are you able to sleep on planes? I would love to hear about your travel essentials for long-haul flights and other tips that have helped you.


Pin for Later

empty plane row with text overlay

Expert Tips to Sleep Better When Traveling

  • Be prepared for your flight by bringing a neck support pillow, earphones, a sweater, and whatever else will help you sleep.
  • Know how alcohol and caffeine affect you and adjust accordingly so you will be able to sleep.
  • Don’t take medicine to sleep while on the plane. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we will receive a small commission for some purchases made using links in our blog with no additional cost to you.  Please be assured we would not promote any product unless we believe that our readers will also benefit.  The commission does not influence the editorial content of this site.

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Last Updated on March 19, 2023

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.