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Top 10 Tips to Survive Overnight Flights

Overnight flights are one of the unfortunate realities of travel. These flights are called Redeye flights, aptly named for how bedraggled we look stepping off them. Overnight flights require the vast majority who can’t afford first class to find a way to sleep in an economy seat. The hardest part of these flights is that you arrive at your destination early in the day. If you want to make the most of your first day in a new place, you need to be rested. And that is hard to do when you are exhausted! Having taken more overnight flights than I care to count, I decided to collect my 10 best tips and tricks for making overnight flights more bearable.

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1. Dress to get rest

I cannot overemphasise the importance of dressing comfortably on an overnight flight. For overnight flights, I have a designated sweater and leggings because it’s the comfiest outfit I own. I also layer one of these tank topsunder the sweater for if it gets warm on the plane. For the opposite end of the spectrum, I wear an oversized blanket scarf that I can wrap up in for warmth on particularly cold flights. I also opt for compression socks on longer flights. These help alleviate some of the swelling I experience on flights. Comfort is king when it comes to making sure you get some shut eye on your red eye so choose your outfit accordingly.

This is one of my go to flight outfits for when I need to look decent on arrival. Leggings, a comfy blouse and a blanket scarf makes the perfect flight combo.

2. Wake up early!

The morning of an overnight flight, I try to wake up extra early(at least an hour earlier sometimes two). This serves two purposes. First, it starts to adjust my body clock towards the time side that I am traveling to. Second, it helps tire me out for my flight and that in turn makes it easier to fall asleep! It also just gives me more time to get any last minute tasks done before my flight.

3. No caffeine(or unnecessary sugar)!

I avoid caffeine like the plague on the day of an overnight flight. As much as I might want my morning tea or my afternoon Starbucks run, I know it’s only going to keep me awake later. I also have a really bad sweet tooth but I do my best to avoid extra sugar on these days because I know it can have the same effect on me. I try to drink lots of water and eat healthier on flight days so that I’m feeling good when I board my flight that night.

4. Spring for the upgrade(if you can)

Even if you can only afford the bump to comfort+, that extra leg room makes a huge difference. To be honest, I only do this on very rare occasions. And I only do it when I know I need to be a fully functioning when the plane lands. The two times I flew Premium Economy were when I flew back to grad school a week after having surgery and when I moved home from England. The first time was because I had used miles for the flight so the cost of the upgrade was the only out of pocket cost. The second time, the upgrade was only $20 more than my extra bag fee was going to be if I flew economy for I upgraded to Premium. If you can’t justify the added cost, my best advice is to at least try to score a window seat! Then,you can lean against the window to make sleeping a little easier and don’t have people asking you to get up and let them go to the bathroom.

5. Opt for the pasta!

I don’t know about you, but pasta and carbs in general, never fail to make me sleepy. Since I know this about myself, I tend to pick the pasta dish as my dinner on overnight flights. Obviously if you can’t do that for dietary reason I understand, but this is just a small thing I do that helps me a little bit.

6. Read rather than watching a movie

I love movies as much as the next girl, but when I know I need to sleep on a flight I opt to read instead. The reason is that I can put a book down at any point when I’m tired, but a movie is 2 hours long. Some people may be able to just stop watching a movie and sleep, but I’m not one of them. I will forced myself to stay awake through the end and then I will have missed 2 hours of my already limited sleep time. If you need some recommendations for great reads I have a whole pinterest board for you to check out!

7. Be ready for bed when you board

Whatever your pre-bedtime routine entails, try to complete as much of it as possible before you board. You want to be ready to get to your seat and start getting cozy as soon as they call your boarding zone. For me, this means my contacts are out and in my travel case, my face has been washed, I’ve taken any sleep aids I plan to, and I am in my comfiest clothes as I mentioned in number 1.

By the time I board an overnight flight, my contacts are out, glasses are on, and I am ready to call it a night.

8. Stay hydrated throughout the day

Of course, there are countless benefits to drinking water. It’s easy to become dehydrated on a flight, so drink plenty of water leading up to and throughout your flight. If you are well hydrated, you will be better rested when you land. I always bring my Tervis water bottle with me and fill it after security. This way, I have it for the flight and my trip! Keep your skin hydrated as well. I always apply plenty of lotion( I love this one for flying) to keep my skin hydrated. Also, consider packing a nice sheet mask or under eye mask to use on the plane. I personally love these sheet masks and these eye masks because they are easy to use on flights. These things keep me looking and feeling well rested when I reach my destination in the morning.

9. Try to fit your personal item in the overhead bin

I know this one is controversial but hear me out. Leg room is a hot commodity on flights. If your flight has some extra space in the overhead bin, try to get your personal item in there and just keep the things you really need in the seat with you. Obviously if bin space is limited, don’t be “that guy”. But, if it’s not a completely full flight OR if you gate checked your full size carryon, try this as a way to take back a little leg room.

10. Invest in some comfort items

Of course I have my essential items for long haul flights, but I can’t stress the importance of these items enough. A good travel pillow can be the difference between getting to your destination feeling recharged or rolling off the plane and straight into your hotel bed to sleep away your entire first day. I also love this sleep mask. It blocks out light from all the screens and reading lamps and makes it easy to fall asleep. I also never fly without my Beats Studio headphones. They block out all the noise from the flight and are comfortable to wear. Of course, they are a bit pricey, but well worth the investment as they hold up well and are amazing to have on your flight!

Overnight flights are a pain in the ass, but they are a necessary evil of travel. These little tricks have helped me survive many an overnight flight so I hope you find them useful! Also, be sure to comment below with which tip you are most excited to try!

From one Misguided Millennial to the world, these have been my 10 best tips for surviving an overnight flight!


  1. Jane J Crutchfield April 1, 2019
    • Deborah April 1, 2019
  2. Jackie Ramirez May 25, 2019
    • Deborah May 26, 2019
  3. Candy May 26, 2019
    • Deborah May 26, 2019
  4. Monica November 13, 2019

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