How to sleep on a flight (Aches on a plane).

Overnight flight from London to Delhi. 9 sleepless hours

Sleeping vertically has never been a human trait unless you’re Spider-Man; it’s more for bats, elephants, horses and animals that can’t really lie down like lizards and ants.

Sleeping on flights can be a quite an achievement especially in the middle seat, which is where I’m sat now, probably bummest seat of all bum seats.

You see, the window seat provides a view for the inquisitive and, with its little portholey-type window, it offers opportunistic though light sleep in a 45 degree, leaning kind of way, especially if you can keep your pillow pressed up against it.

The aisle seat is perhaps the flagship seat of the three, and is generally considered the seat of choice for people who have a morbid fear of DVT, an obsession with inflight leg exercises or, as is most likely the case, have weak bladders. (author’s note: people with weak bladders should not attempt leg exercises).

Closet cleptos are attracted to the aisle seat for its myriad of casual pilfering opportunities from the passing drinks trolley.

The middle seat is for the martyrs, those doing a favour for others, or checking in late. I’ve never been fan of the middle seat on planes; it’s just a little too cosy, pinned in on both sides by nearly touching shoulders.


At least I managed to get some sleep in the middle seat by inventing some new sleeping positions and holding them until they became uncomfortable.

Here they are with a star ⭐️ grading out of five:

1) Sleeping as you’re sat. ⭐️⭐️

This is the default sleep position and unless you have a neck pillow this can lead to your head tilting to the side and giving you neck ache in the jugular region.

There is the further risk of humiliating open-mouth, never a good look unless you’re a zombie, drooling and worst off all, keeling over and snuggling up to the random stranger in the window seat.

2) Lodging a pillow inside a hoodie. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This isn’t bad as the hoodie stops your pillow falling away. You can also improvise a pillow by folding the provided blanket. Its a little itchy but it works.

3) Sleeping with head resting on TV screen. ⭐️

Not comfortable. Earphones socket imprint on forehead is not a good look either.

4) Sleeping on the tray. ⭐️

If the seat in front makes a rapid decline, you’re prone, in this position, to being smacked on the forehead. In the UK this is called being ‘spammed’; in the USA it’s being hit ‘oops upside your head.’

5) Crouching on seat. ⭐️

Not really a sleep position. More a huddle.

This leads to aches on a plane.

6) Lifting up arm rest to vertical, wedging pillow on to it. ⭐️

Although deceptively comfortable to start off with, the armrest inevitably lowers to a horizontal position. Because of the risk of ending up sleeping on random stranger’s lap, we give this a single star .

7) Sleeping in first class. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is the best sleeping position on the plane, with attendant luxuries like crockery, non plastic cutlery, champagne and hand to mouth grape feeding from a supplicant flight attendant.

A national lottery win, setting up my own pyramid scheme or being the figurehead of a fringe religion are the only things keeping me from this option (which is why I have awarded it four not five stars).


This post is part of the series ‘90 Days in South East Asia’.

All the links to blog posts in the series are as follows:

1) I’m backpacking around Southeast Asia for 90 days

2) Packing for backpacking: 16 useful things to take on your travels

3) How to sleep on a flight (aches on a plane)

4) Flying past Mount Everest

5) A storm in an Assamese teacup

6) On the lazy man’s road: the story of Dhodar Ali

7) Digboi, the oil town in the rainforest

8) To Sivasagar: home of the Assamese kings

9) Things to see in Majuli, the world’s largest river island

10) An unexpected treat on the river Brahmaputra

11) Helpful hints on how to climb a 17 foot elephant on your wedding day

12) Where the rhinos roam

13) The Assamese Bihu: a time of unbridled joy

14) A tale of a dry day in India

15) Kalimpong and a magical Himalayan wedding

16) Chiang Mai, a pretty little temple town

17) Replanning our route, re-routing our plan

18) Luang Prabang in Laos: the jewel on the Mekong River

19) A slow and unintended minibus to Vang Vieng

20) In the laid-back city of Vientiane

21) Laos: Caves, a jungle trek and the mysterious turquoise lake

22) On our way down south in Laos

23) Goodbye Laos, you beauty

24) Friday night at the Saigon Opera House

25) Getting over a fever

26) Vietnam days: Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi

27) Landing in the sea at Halong Bay, Vietnam

28) Mandalay Days

29) Bagan, the jewel of Myanmar

30) Three nights on Lake Inle in Myanmar

31) Finding a perfect perfume in Singapore

32) In Borneo, watching the orangutans at play

33) Watching turtles at Selingan Island



  1. Hey guys! Really enjoying your travel blog and can identify with quite a few comments 🙂 loving it so keep it going, take care of each other out in the big world and mainly have fun! Loafs of love from is here
    (Nikki & Seb & India & Evie)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nikki. Glad you’re enjoying the posts and can empathise. It’s a really exciting time for us, currently on a bus in Assam and flying down to Thailand in two weeks. I’m so happy you named your child India. Beautiful name x


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