Essential Items for Airport Sleep

Getting sleep in airports can often test your ability to adapt to various environmental challenges, especially during overnight layovers where you face cold temperatures, loud noises, and harsh lighting.

Preparing adequately can significantly enhance your comfort and ability to rest effectively under these conditions. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of essential travel gear designed specifically to combat these common airport nuisances.

From noise-canceling headphones and cozy travel blankets to contoured sleep masks and portable sleeping mats, we’ll cover the best products that promise to transform any bustling airport gate into a serene and comfortable resting spot.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on a rare long-haul flight, having the right gear at your disposal is key to arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to explore.

The items below are only essential if you plan to sleep in terminal waiting areas utilizing free amenities such as padded benches and rest couches in designated rest areas. If you plan to sleep on a sleep pod or in hotel rooms offered by hotels near the airport you’ll be having a layover, you may not need these items.

What to Wear for Cold Layover Night at an Airport:


Creating a stylish yet practical airport outfit that’s suitable for cooler temperatures, especially at night, involves choosing pieces that are lightweight, warm, and easily layered. Here’s an essential guide to help you stay comfortable and fashionable

1. Base Layer

  • Merino Wool T-shirt or Top: Start with a breathable, moisture-wicking base layer like a merino wool t-shirt. Merino wool is excellent because it regulates body temperature and keeps you warm without overheating.
  • Options on Amazon:
    • For women: Look for brands like Wolly Clothing Co, Smartwool or Icebreaker for high-quality options.
    • For men: Options from Merino.tech or Woolly Clothing Co are popular.

2. Mid Layer

3. Outer Layer

  • Packable Down Jacket or Vest: A packable down jacket or vest is perfect for staying warm during colder nights. They are light, easy to carry, and provide excellent insulation.
  • Options on Amazon:
    • For women: Look for packable down jackets from Columbia or Amazon Essentials.
    • For men: Options like Tommy Hilfiger packable down jacket or Amazon Essentials lightweight packable puffer.

4. Bottoms

5. Footwear

6. Accessories

  • Scarf or Pashmina: A lightweight scarf or pashmina can add an extra layer of warmth and can be easily removed if needed. It also adds a touch of style to the outfit.
  • Beanie and Gloves: For extra chilly nights, pack a beanie and a pair of gloves. They don’t take up much space and can be a lifesaver if it gets really cold.
  • Options on Amazon:

7. Bags

These items combine practicality with style, ensuring you are prepared for varying temperatures, all while maintaining a fashionable look. Remember, when shopping on Amazon, check the reviews and ratings to ensure you’re getting quality products.

Essential Items to Deal with Bright Airport Lighting:

Dealing with bright lights at night, especially when trying to sleep in different environments such as on a plane or in a hotel room, can be challenging. A high-quality eye mask can significantly improve sleep quality by blocking out light. Here are some recommendations for reliable eye masks that are highly rated and can be found on Amazon:

1. Memory Foam Eye Masks

  • Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask: This mask features an innovative design that offers total darkness and is made from soft, breathable cotton. The Mavogel mask has a patented nose wing design that helps block light more effectively.
  • Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask: Made from high-quality mulberry silk, this mask is soft, smooth, and breathable. It’s gentle on the skin and comfortable enough to wear all night long.

2. Contoured Eye Masks

  • Bucky 40 Blinks Luxury Ultralight Comfortable Contoured Eye Sleep Mask: This contoured mask is designed to allow for pressure-free eye comfort, ensuring that your makeup or eyelashes won’t touch the fabric. It’s ideal for travelers or those who nap during the day.
  • MZOO Sleep Eye Mask: The MZOO mask is made from memory foam with a contoured design that allows your eyes to blink freely and avoids pressure on your eyelids. It’s excellent for blocking out light completely.

3. Silk Eye Masks

  • Jersey Slumber 100% Silk Sleep Mask: This is another silk option that’s lightweight and breathable, which can help with temperature regulation throughout the night. Silk is ideal for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
  • YANSER Luxury Silk Sleep Mask: Made from 100% mulberry silk, this eye mask is soft, plush, and features an adjustable strap. It also comes with a luxury gift box, making it a perfect gift.

4. Adjustable Eye Masks

  • Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask: For those who prefer a firmer feel, the Tempur-Pedic mask molds to the face and eyes, made from the company’s signature memory foam. Its adjustable strap and firm fit ensure that almost no light can seep through.
  • PrettyCare 3D Sleep Mask: Featuring an innovative 3D design that keeps the fabric away from your eyelids as you sleep, this mask is excellent for those who need complete darkness but don’t like the feeling of pressure on their eyes.

5. Innovative Eye Masks

These eye masks are designed to help you sleep better by effectively blocking out disruptive light and improving your overall sleep environment. When choosing an eye mask, consider factors such as the material (especially if you have sensitive skin), the fit, and how well it blocks light. Checking customer reviews on Amazon will give you a good idea of how effective each mask is in real-world conditions.

Essential Gear to Deal with Airport’s Loud Noises:

Dealing with noise in airport terminals can be a challenge, especially during long layovers or unexpected delays. The choice between noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs depends on your personal preferences and specific needs. Here’s a guide to selecting the right noise management gear:

1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

  • When to Choose Them:
    • If you are sensitive to noise or find it difficult to concentrate or relax in noisy environments.
    • For listening to music, podcasts, or movies without raising the volume excessively.
    • For long flights or travel sessions where comfort and sound quality are paramount.
  • Recommended Products:
    • Bose QuietComfort 45: Known for their superior noise cancellation and comfort, these headphones are ideal for frequent travelers who value audio quality and effective noise cancellation. You can also opt for Bose QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds.
    • Sony WH-1000XM4: Offers some of the best active noise cancellation available, with smart listening technology that adjusts ambient sound to your activity. They’re also comfortable for long periods, making them perfect for travel.
    • Anker Soundcore Life Q20: A more budget-friendly option, these headphones provide significant noise cancellation and have a long battery life, suitable for long haul travel.

2. Earplugs

  • When to Choose Them:
    • For blocking out all ambient noise, not just reducing it. This is useful when trying to sleep in a noisy environment without being disturbed.
    • When portability is essential, or if you find headphones uncomfortable over long periods.
    • For situations where electronic devices are prohibited or impractical.
  • Recommended Products:

3. Combination Strategies

  • When to Use Both:
    • In extremely noisy situations, such as sitting near the engines on a plane or in a busy terminal, using both earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones can provide maximum noise reduction.
    • When you need to block out noise completely to sleep, but also want the option to listen to soothing sounds or music if you can’t sleep.
  • Strategy:
    • Wear earplugs as your primary noise-blocking tool, then add noise-cancelling headphones over them without playing music, or playing ambient sounds/music at a low volume.

4. Additional Tips

  • Ensure your noise-cancelling headphones are charged before your trip or carry a backup power source.
  • Always have a pair of earplugs in your travel kit as a lightweight and easy backup noise reduction option.
  • Test different types of earplugs and headphones before your trip to find the most comfortable and effective option for you.

This guide will help you choose between noise-canceling headphones and earplugs based on your specific travel needs, ensuring a more peaceful and enjoyable journey.

5 Airport Sleep Essentials:

When preparing for a layover where sleep might be necessary, having the right gear can make a significant difference in comfort and rest quality. Here are five great sleep gear items for an airport layover, along with recommendations for specific types and brands:

1. Travel Pillow

  • Type/Kind: Memory Foam Neck Pillow
  • Recommended Brand: Cabeau Evolution S3
    • Explanation: The Cabeau Evolution S3 is designed to provide superior support and comfort with its high-quality memory foam. It features an adjustable front clasp and a flat back, ensuring your head stays upright and doesn’t tilt uncomfortably while sleeping. Its cover is also removable and machine washable, making it easy to keep clean.

2. Sleep Mask

  • Type/Kind: Contoured Sleep Mask
  • Recommended Brand: MZOO Sleep Eye Mask
    • Explanation: The MZOO Sleep Eye Mask is made with memory foam and has a contoured design that avoids pressure on your eyes while completely blocking out light. The mask’s shape allows for free eye movement and its adjustable strap ensures a comfortable fit. This makes it ideal for uninterrupted sleep even in well-lit areas like airports.

3. Travel Blanket

  • Type/Kind: Compact Travel Blanket
  • Recommended Brand: Cocoon CoolMax Blanket
    • Explanation: The Cocoon CoolMax Blanket is lightweight and made from a special CoolMax material that is fast drying and breathable, providing comfort without overheating. It packs down into a small pouch, making it easy to carry around during your travels.

4. Sleeping Mat

  • Type/Kind: Inflatable Sleeping Pad
  • Recommended Brand: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
    • Explanation: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is an ultralight, inflatable sleeping pad known for its minimal pack size and excellent insulation properties. It’s ideal for layovers as it can be quickly inflated and provides cushioning and warmth from the cold airport floor, enhancing sleep quality during travel.

5. Noise-Cancelling Earphones

  • Type/Kind: Electronic Noise-Cancelling Earplugs
  • Recommended Brand: Bose QuietComfort 20 or the CYADCI as an inexpensive alternative
    • Explanation: Unlike traditional headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 20 are in-ear earphones that combine noise-canceling technology with the convenience of a compact size. They are excellent for blocking out ambient noise and can be comfortably worn for long periods, perfect for sleeping during noisy airport layovers.

6. Sleeping Bag:

Consider a sleeping bag liner especially the Tough Outdoors Sleeping Bag Liner provides a practical and comfortable solution for travelers needing to rest in airports. Its design focuses on portability, comfort, and hygiene—key considerations for anyone spending the night in transit.

Tough Outdoors Sleeping Bag Liner:

The Sleeping Bag Liner from Tough Outdoors is an excellent product for enhancing comfort and hygiene during airport sleep, making it an ideal choice for travelers. Here’s why this product stands out for such scenarios:

  1. Comfort and Hygiene: The liner is crafted from soft, lightweight, and breathable polyester, which provides a comfortable barrier between you and less-than-ideal sleeping surfaces, such as airport benches or floors. It helps maintain cleanliness, protecting against dirt and potential allergens on public surfaces.
  2. Portable and Compact: It comes with its own travel sack, measuring just 8″ x 6″ when packed. This compact size makes it easy to carry in a backpack or suitcase, ensuring it doesn’t take up much space or add significant weight to your luggage.
  3. Versatility: Available in single and double sizes, with options for zippered or non-zippered access, it caters to different needs and preferences. The zippered version offers easy entry and exit, which is convenient when adjusting your position or location in busy areas like airports.
  4. Pillow Integration: It features an integrated pillow sleeve where you can insert a pillow or clothing to create a makeshift pillow. This feature is particularly useful in airports where pillows might not be readily available, ensuring you still have head support for a more restful sleep.
  5. Generous Sizing: The liner is generously sized to accommodate individuals up to 6’6″ tall, offering ample room to stretch out and relax. This is beneficial in an airport setting where finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging.
  6. Easy Maintenance: The liner is easy to wash, which is essential for travelers looking to keep their sleeping arrangements fresh and clean after use in various environments, including airports.

Litume Sleeping Bag Liner:

If you’re anticipating a layover in an airport such as JFK Airport known for being exceptionally cold at night, or if you’re traveling during the winter months, the Litume All Season Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner is an excellent choice to enhance your comfort.

This liner is specifically designed to add up to 27°F/15°C to your sleeping arrangement, making it perfect for cold environments. Crafted from a thicker, softer fleece, it not only increases warmth but also maintains a lightweight profile, weighing just 16.6oz/470g.

This makes it easy to carry in its included travel sack, ensuring it doesn’t add significant weight to your luggage. The mummy-style design with a drawstring hood helps lock in heat for additional warmth, and the foot box offers more space to move your feet, enhancing overall comfort during use.

Ideal for travelers seeking extra warmth without the bulk of a winter sleeping bag, the Litume liner is a smart addition to your travel gear, keeping you warm and comfortable in chilly airport conditions or any outdoor adventures.

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.