Tips on Sleeping in the Airport During an Overnight Layover

January 25, 2018

Headed to Hong Kong, I noticed last minute that I purchased a flight containing an overnight layover in Beijing. I didn’t really want to venture outside of the airport to explore the city, and I heard it wasn’t abnormal to sleep over in the airport. So I decided to try spending a night in the airport for my first time ever!

My Story:

I arrived at the Beijing airport on maybe 4-5 hours of sleep. I had only slept about 3-4 hours prior to my flight (I have sleep issues), and I only slept a max of 1 hour on the flight. So I was obviously exhausted.

It took about 1 hour to pass through security for transfers (Beijing airport lines tend to be long). It was pretty tiring standing in line as I was feeling nauseous from the lack of sleep. I had to find a place to rest!

I learned there were sleeping pods in the airport so I took a look. They had one, and it wasn’t taken. So I tried to sleep in this:

sleeping pod china

I ended up being unable to because I kept worrying about how clean it was inside the sleeping pod.

Then I checked the recliner chairs and they were all filled :(. They looked like this:

beijing china airport

Super tired, I decided to grab some water and dinner first before the restaurants closed (I believe at 10). I figured it would give me some energy in the meantime. The Beijing airport had some solid amenities including:

A nice machine for free drinking water:

beijing airport water machine

And actual showers (but I didn’t try them out and I didn’t take a picture of them).

I grabbed some dinner for around $5. The meal was actually tasty and super affordable:

beijing airport meal

Now, back to finding my resting spot.

So I decided my last bet was to join the bunch of travelers sleeping on the airport chairs. Didn’t capture a photo of all the sleeping travelers, but here is where I slept!

airport chairs

My new resting quarters ended up being a success! I slept an additional 3 hours (the cold of the Beijing airport made it difficult to sleep). Those extra hours helped re-energize me.

For someone who sucks at sleeping like me, gaining some good airport overnight layover tips would have been invaluable. So, I’ve compiled a list of tips below!

1. Check for sleeping pods, recliner chairs, and lounge memberships

I wouldn’t have known about Beijing airport’s designated sleeping pods and recliners if I weren’t informed about them ahead of time. I’m not sure which airports have them, but make sure to browse online before you go.

If you have some airport lounge membership you can get access to better, more comfortable areas to rest.

2. Bring earplugs and eye masks

Airports can be loud and bright. It is important that you bring earplugs and eye masks especially if you’re a light sleeper (like I am).earplugs sleeping mask

3. Store your travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and face cleanser in your carry-on bag or personal item.

Or better yet, bring a whole toiletry kit. You can buy sets here: for men and for women. When you’re on your layover, most likely you’re not going to be able to access your checked bags. If your toiletries are in those bags you’re not going to be able to brush your teeth and all that before you sleep.

Also, sometimes airports may have showers (like the Beijing airport), so if you have your goods you’ll be able to shower with them as well!

travel set toiletries men's travel set toiletries women's

4. Look for a spot without distractions, but is still close enough to other sleeping travelers

You’d think you want to separate away from people to get a better night’s rest. But if you’re with a pack of people it is less likely you’ll get your goods stolen.

In terms of distractions, sometimes airports have bright video screens that play 24/7. It’ll help to step away from those!

5. If you have a backpack, use it as a pillow. That way you don’t need to worry as much about people stealing stuff.

Now that I travel super light, I haven’t been carrying travel pillows (but check out my list of best travel pillows here). So if you’re like me, it’s a good idea to use your backpack as a pillow. Cause not only will it be more comfortable than laying your head on a cold seat, you’ll also be protecting the items you store inside your bag. It would be extremely hard for pickpockets to grab your laptop without you noticing, if your head is covering all the zippers!

6. Use jackets as blankets

I tend to layer up for the airplane (which also saves space for me to put more stuff in my suitcases). I was able to place my jackets and other layers over me to help me sleep.

7. Make sure you know when your flight is and what your gate number is!

Lastly, don’t miss your flight. That would be devastating, after all this work you’re doing sleeping in the airport! Make sure you check when and where your flight will be. It would be ideal to sleep close to your gate, and set an alarm so you don’t oversleep and miss your flight!


My experience was a difficult one because my insomnia. But to be honest I get why people sleep in the airport. It’s really not that bad, and tons of people do it! In the future I’m probably going to avoid doing the overnight layover, but now that I’ve experienced this I wouldn’t mind doing it again if I had to.

Have you slept in an airport overnight? What was your experience like?!

tips on sleeping in the airport overnight layover

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