I don't usually sleep much on a plane. If I am extremely tired, I might doze but I'm not much of a sleeper on a plane no matter how long the flight or the time of day. Bob on the other hand can sleep most anywhere. He usually takes a Tylenol PM or two and he's out by the time the landing gear is up. I envy that especially when it's a long flight and I'd really like to be awake for the adventure ahead.
Taking a book along to read helps sometimes but I usually find myself so intrigued by the story that I stay awake to see how it ends. Maybe I need to read some duller books like the ones I had to read in college that always managed to put me to sleep before I could finish them.
Bob usually books me a window seat which is nice. If I'm next to a window I can lean in that direction which is more comfortable sometimes than trying to recline a seat. Ever notice that an airplane seat has no support for your back no matter what angle you recline to?
I have a pair of noise canceling headphones and enjoy listening to soothing music while I read but if I do start to nod off, I find them cumbersome. Guess I need the more expensive pair that work like earbuds.
And of course on those long flights where they actually feed you who wants to fall asleep and miss all that airplane food?
I've tried it all--meds, shoes on/shoes off, sleep masks, blanket/no blanket, travel pillow/airplane pillow/no pillow, reading/not reading, counting sheep (although what they were doing 30,000 feet in the air is beyond me). Still most of the time sleep eludes me on a plane when we're flying coach. Now first class or business class? That hardly ever happens. At least the upgrades rarely come on a flight longer than a couple of hours.
When all is said and done though, I figure a little lost sleep is a small fee to pay for an exciting new travel adventure.