Sleeping On The Plane: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

16 September 2016
Read Time: 2.4 mins

Words by Carlie Tucker

Catching 40 winks at 30,000 feet is often easier said than done. So elusive is sleep on a plane that plenty of work has gone into creating gadgets, devices and accessories to aid in the quest for quality shuteye. While some of these are genuinely helpful, others are best left alone. And more still should never see the light of day ...

The Good

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Trtl Pillow

If there's one sleep aid that all travellers should invest in, it's the humble travel pillow. And while there are plenty of basic models to choose from, this unique invention cleverly combines comfort and style. In fact, it almost looks exactly like a scarf. It features a support system of strengthened ribs sewn into a soft fleece collar. When wrapped around your neck, it provides head and neck support for a more comfortable sleep. It's half the size of a traditional travel pillow, machine washable and comes in a variety of colours.   

Glo to Sleep mask

Another staple of any sleep kit, the eye mask is a great accessory to throw in your carry-on. This device is an eye mask with a few new bells and whistles. The soft and cushy mask features gently pulsing lights that dim to help you clear your mind and fall asleep. Once the light pattern finishes and turns off, all external light is completely blocked out to help you stay asleep. When it's time to get up, the Glo to Sleep mask has soft brightening lights to help you wake up. It is app programmable, so you can set your sleep and awake time accordingly.  

The Bad

Knee Defender

If you haven't heard of the Knee Defender, you haven't been keeping up on your travel news. This little device, that hooks to the seatback tray table to block the seat in front of you from reclining, has caused much controversy. In fact, it has resulted in in-air disputes that have grounded planes. It is for this reason this device has ended up on the bad list. While there's nothing wrong with coveting every inch of limited space in your economy seat, it's best to come to a happy compromise with your seatmates using your kind words.

Discover more tips to help you sleep on your next flight.

Your Complete Guide To Neck Pillows

 Life Hacks: Make An Airplane Sleep Kit

Little Cloud Nine

This inflatable travel pillow was designed to make long haul travel more comfortable. And while it's a good idea to pack some sort of travel pillow, this one is large, awkward and just looks a bit silly when in use. It features two inflatable chambers and once blown up it should be folded into a tube. Your head rests at one end, and there are slots at the bottom to hold your hands. If you value comfort over appearance, this one may be for you, but there are plenty of alternatives that easier to carry and use.

The Ugly


Not quite a pillow, this sleep device hooks over the top of your seat and features a memory pillow chinstrap to create a 'hammock' for your head. It's designed to keep your head at a 90 degree angle, simulating a laying position. One major flaw in its design (and use) is the potential to obstruct the entertainment screen for the passenger behind you, which impedes on their in-flight comfort. It's also not the most attractive sleep device ever conceived. Again, more practical accessories are available, so you may want to skip this one.   

Snazzy Napper

Don't be fooled by the name of this one. It's anything but snazzy. Simply speaking, this is a blanket with a nose hole that straps around your head. It also comes with zipper pockets to store miscellaneous possessions. While it may have some snazzy patterns on it, there's no need to waste precious bag space on this one. If you must, the same effect can be achieved by sleeping with a blanket or scarf over your head.