Why Can’t I Sleep Before A Flight?

Any type of journey can be draining yet full of excitement. You can meet a very friendly co-passenger and you might build a friendship for a lifetime, as unexpected things happen at the airport or on a flight. Or, you could just face something totally different, you might have to deal with bad customer service or a rude co-passenger. Thus, being able to deal with all these things with a relaxed mind is highly suggested, and for this you need to have a good night’s rest before your flight.

Anticipation of catching a flight for attending a business meeting, a vacation, or an emergency, can be quite disturbing. Your mind can be occupied with numerous thoughts that can keep you awake before your flight. It is a very normal and common feeling that can occur to almost anybody. In fact, many people find they can’t sleep before a flight.

The trouble is, if you don’t sleep before your flight you will feel sleep deprived before a long travel day. Lack of sleep the night before travel can also increase jet lag if you are changing time zone. It’s never a good idea to pulll an all nighter before long flights, so make sure to get enough rest before your trip.

Can’t sleep before your flight? Do not worry, you do not have any extreme issues. Whether it is anxiety, fear, anticipation, or excitement, many faces this common and frequent obstacle and they end up feeling irritable and groggy while traveling.

The main reasons that people can’t sleep before a flight are anxiety, fear, worry about oversleeping, change in time zone and excitement. More details about all these reasons and what to do about them are discussed in this post.

Is it normal not to sleep before a flight?

Yes, it is quite normal not to sleep before a flight. People often worry about getting to bed early before a flight, especially an early flight, and then find that they have trouble sleeping because they are anxious about not waking up in time or about the flight ahead.

If you cannot sleep before a flight then there is nothing major to worry about, it happens often with a lot of people. Worrying more about this can make your condition worse hence, make sure that you are well-rested and you need to relax and let go of all the fear and anticipation.

Sleep deprivation can make you drowsy, slow your thinking, decrease your energy level, and cause irritability during the day, therefore, this will render you unproductive for the rest of the day.

Reasons why you can’t sleep before a flight


Trouble falling asleep is often linked to anxiety. Travel anxiety is common and it can cause problems with your sleep cycle, causing you to wake up early or keeping you awake at night with excitement or worry. Lack of sleep can make your travel anxiety worse. If you are relaxed and well-rested, you will be able to handle anxiety in a better way and sleep better. Thus, it is essential to get a good sleep and relax before your flight.

Research says that lack of sleep contributes to an increase in worrying. People who worry too much can be more vulnerable and prone to sleep disorders. It is a fact that anxious worrying about sleeplessness causes sleep loss. A similar thing happens with excitement and fear.

Do not worry about things that are out of your control, such as the weather or the plane being delayed. Focus on the things that you can control, such as getting a good night’s sleep and being well-rested for your flight.


Fear of flying is a common phobia and it can prevent you from getting the sleep you need before your flight. If you are afraid of flying, you might be worried about the safety of the plane, turbulence, or not being able to get off the plane in an emergency. These fears can keep you up at night and make it difficult to fall asleep.

To ease your fear of flying, it is important to educate yourself about the safety of flying and what to expect on a plane. Reading about other people’s positive experiences with flying can also help you feel more comfortable about getting on a plane. If you have severe anxiety or fear of flying, you might want to consult a doctor or therapist to help you manage your anxiety.

Worry about oversleeping

Worry about oversleeping and missing your flight is a common worry that people have before taking a flight, especially if they are travelling for the first time. Worrying about oversleeping and missing your flight can make it difficult to fall asleep and will also disturb your sleep once you do manage to fall asleep.

If you are worried about oversleeping, it is important to set an alarm and make sure that you have a backup plan in place in case you do oversleep. It is also important to relax and try not to think about it too much.

Change in time zone

If you are travelling to a different time zone, it can be difficult to adjust to the new time. This can cause you to wake up early or have trouble sleeping at night. It is important to try to adjust to the new time zone as much as possible before your flight.

You can do this by gradually shifting your sleep schedule to match the new time zone. For example, if you are travelling from New York to London, you would want to start going to bed an hour later each night for a few days before your flight. This will help you to adjust to the new time zone and make it easier to sleep on the flight.

Make sure to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol before your flight as these can make it difficult to sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours, so it is best to avoid it at least six hours before you plan to sleep. Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it can also cause you to wake up during the night.

It is also important to avoid screen time before bed as the blue light from screens can interfere with your sleep. Try to relax and wind down for a few hours before bedtime to help you sleep better on the flight.


Excitement about your upcoming trip can also keep you up at night. If you are excited about your trip, it is important to try to stay calm and relax before bedtime.

Try to avoid thinking about all the fun things that you are going to do on your trip. Instead, focus on relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep. This is also the reason why lots of people can’t sleep on Christmas Eve.

You can read our full guide: How to sleep when you are too excited to sleep.

Should you sleep the night before a flight?

Yes, of course, you should sleep the night before your flight. There are some people who prefer not to sleep the night before their flight and engage themselves in distracting activities to stay awake. But, this is usually a big NO. You should not stay awake as it might add to your anxiety and make you tired on the day of your flight. If you travel a lot and if you are doing this repeatedly, you might even develop chronic sleeping disorders, especially if you are changing time zones.

You will be drained of energy, become grumpier, and develop a lack of interest. Your sleep cycle and food consumption are linked. You might feel irritable and feel like you do not want to eat anything, ultimately losing your appetite, which will add to your irritability without you acknowledging or realizing it. Alternatively, if you stay awake the night before your flight you might find yourself binge-eating junk food because your body will be short on energy and craving carbs and sugars.

What to do if you can’t sleep before a flight?

Here are a few measures that you can take:

1. Prepare ahead:

If anxiety is the main cause of your sleeplessness before travel, get your tickets printed, your snacks, essentials, electronic devices (chargers, power banks, headphones, etc.), and outfit laid out, and your suitcase packed. This way you will be assured that everything is ready and you are equally ready to take your flight the next day.

2. Avoid last minute packing:

Last minute packing will lead to more stress and anxiety, making it even harder to stay asleep and get enough rest. Start packing well ahead of time, around a week before your trip, to ensure that you have everything ready come travel day.

3. Tire yourself out:

Wake up early and ensure you go through a busy day the day before traveling. It is preferred that you go through a day with high physical activity and stay away from caffeine. Your body will automatically crave sleep and you will restore all the energy for your journey.

4. Relax:

If this second measure does not work then you should try to relax by preparing your mind and body for bed. You can even try meditation, yoga, listening to your favorite music, decaf tea that contains sleep-inducing properties, or you can take a warm bath that will help you to unwind and de-stress, making it easier for you to fall asleep.

5. Keep to your sleep schedule:

Human bodies are like biological clocks that help to regulate your circadian rhythm. Before your flight, try to maintain your normal sleep routine as much as possible. However, if going to bed at your usual time will mean you won’t get enough sleep before a long flight, go to bed in the early evening instead. Even a short nap is better than nothing when it comes to the night before you fly.

6. Use a wake up call:

If you know you need to get up early to make your flight, take the anxiety away from falling asleep by setting several alarms around the room. This will ensure that you need to get out of bed to turn off the alarms, and will put your mind at ease that you won’t oversleep and miss your flight.

Read also: How to stop sleeping through alarms.

7. Create a familiar environment:

If you are staying in an airport hotel or otherwise away from home before your flight, try to make it as similar to your usual bedroom as possible.

You might find it difficult to fall asleep in a new environment because it feels unfamiliar. You can try to bring your own pillow, nightlight, blanket, or any accessory that will keep you comfortable and remind you of your home. This is a great way of mimicking your sleep ambiance which will eventually help you to relax and drift off to sleep.

8. Eat mindfully:

You should make an effort to have a healthy meal before traveling. Avoid grabbing restaurant foods on the go as diet play an essential role to make you fall asleep. Have a light, nutritious meal at least an hour before bed to give yourself a good night’s rest. You should definitely avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine and heavily processed high sugar foods the evening before your flight.

9. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep:

Yes, get out of your bed if you cannot sleep because the longer you try to fall asleep by pressuring yourself, turning, and tossing, it is less likely for you to fall asleep. Rather, you will be full of anxiety and you will produce the opposite of the results desired. You can get up and try to do something that will distract you and calm you down like journaling, strolling, stretching, or reading until you get tired and sleep again.

10. Maintain a correct temperature:

Maintain a proper room temperature that will comfort you. Science says that the optimal temperature for sleep should be between sixty and sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature swings can cause your body to feel uncomfortable resulting in a disturbed sleep cycle.

These tips are also beneficial when dealing with the issue of sleeping more on vacation.

What should you do the night before a flight?

These are a few things you can prepare the night before a flight:

Check you have everything

You should do a final run-through or consolidate your checklists to ensure you have kept everything you need in your luggage.

Check your wallet

This is one of the most common mistakes a traveler can make. Ensure to call your credit card company if you are traveling internationally or else your card will be declined in a foreign land. Keep enough cash for your basic transport and meals.

Check your ID

Ensure to take your Identity proofs (IDs) and passports that are valid and updated. This is something that you should do weeks prior to the flight but still going through at the last moment to ensure everything is okay will help you to relax.

Organize your hand luggage

You need to lay out everything that you will use on the day of your flight. For example, clothes, electronics, toiletries, IDs, snacks, plane tickets, or anything you need the day you are planning to travel. Pack these at the top of your luggage or within your reach so that you do not mess up your perfectly organized suitcase.

Charge your electronics

Do not forget to charge your gadgets or electronics as you won’t be pleased to wake up to a dead mobile phone or even worse, you can miss the alarm you set for waking up on time for your flight. Carry a power bank in case of any emergency.

Lock up your house

You can perform a quick home check to ensure everything is your house is okay. Water your plants and feed your pets (if any) before their caretaker arrives. You can also place your home keys and home instructions if needed.

Let your neighbors and loved ones know

You need to communicate via text, email, or call with your neighbors, family, or friends if you are going on a long trip or internationally. You should also let them know what the local time zone is so that they understand if they don’t hear back from you right away.

Get a good night’s sleep

Lastly, embrace your excitement, drink plenty of water, and have a good sleep before the night you travel.

Conclusion: Why can’t I sleep before a flight?

There can be many reasons why you cannot sleep before you fly. It could be due to anxiety, excitement, or simply because you are not used to sleeping in new environments. To ensure that you get a good night’s sleep before your flight, follow the tips listed above. By doing so, you will be well-rested and prepared for your journey ahead.