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Even with the seat back lowered as far as it will go, my head droops forward when I try to sleep. This causes me to soon wake up with either a stiff neck or because of "the head jolt".

The neck cushions do not work. Putting one behind my neck is pointless because that does not prevent my head from drooping forward. And they are too small to be of much use in the front of my neck.

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Hey Henry! :) There is no comfortable way to sleep on a plane unless you are lucky enough to be in first class. There is a pillow that you can blow up as a wedge to put in your lap and sort of lean forward on it. I have never had any good sleep as a result of that thing. Oh, and possible duplicate: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/4308/… –  Larian LeQuella Dec 24 '11 at 18:57
    
Why not turn the neck pillow around, with the opening behind you? –  Jonathan Landrum Jan 31 '14 at 14:50

7 Answers 7

A flight blanket worn as a scarf (folded in half and tucked through the loop) with the loop in front can often help. It will also keep your neck warm.

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I'm a little surprised that no one has already mentioned this, but getting a window seat and leaning against the side of the cabin is helpful for overcoming this situation, since it allows you to have a more reclined angle for sleeping. Of course, this will depend on the aircraft. It works much better in a big, wide-body jet where the walls are a reasonable approximation of vertical than it does on tiny regional jets where the curvature of the cabin causes it to protrude inward at head level. I've done this many times on 737-size and up aircraft, though. It works reasonably well. An added bonus is that you don't have to lean your seat back much (or at all,) which will be appreciated by the person behind you on densely-packed domestic or regional configuration cabins that don't have much seat pitch. That part doesn't matter as much on long flights where everyone is expected to lean back (and which usually have accordingly-larger seat pitch,) though. The biggest downside to this is probably turbulence. The side of the cabin doesn't have as much isolation to dampen turbulence as your seat has, so you'll definitely feel that more. I usually try to use a pillow or folded up blanket between my head and the side of the cabin to help dampen the turbulence (and to keep from hitting my head on the side of the cabin in the event of more severe turbulence.)

Barring that possibility, in aircraft that have adjustable headrests that fold out on either side (or which have permanent protrusions on either side,) I've found it helpful to sit somewhat diagonally in the chair with my head turned to the side, so that the side of my face is laying on the back of the headrest and my forehead is held from falling forwards by the side protrusion of the headrest. Of course, make sure that you don't turn your body so far to the side that your legs are encroaching on someone else's space, though (this limitation prevents me from turning very much, since my legs are relatively long.)

Of course, the best solution is to get a seat that lies completely flat in business or first class, but I'm guessing that's not an option for most people reading looking up answers to this question (and usually isn't an option for me, either.)

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I have no personal experience, but the first thing that came to my mind when reading this question was this:

ostrich pillow in action

You may buy it from here

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On short haul flights I put the tray table down lean over and rest my arms on it to use it as a pillow not overly comfortable but I usually manage an hour or so of sleep.

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Don't know about you but my 5'nothing doesn't allow me to lean over when tray table is resting practically on my chest. –  Karlson Jan 30 '14 at 18:42
    
Yeah its about ideal height when you are 6' so i can see how that would be an issue for you. –  Stuart Feb 5 '14 at 12:08
    
I wasn't talking just about height but mostly about closeness of the seat in front... –  Karlson Feb 5 '14 at 17:37

I have been known to use a neck pillow backwards - with the gap behind my head - or sideways, to prevent just this problem. But the best prevention is not to be entirely on your back. Turn a little in your seat so that your ear (or better still your cheekbone) is on the seatback, and your chin will not head towards your chest.

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You may wish to consider a pillow that is designed to let you lean forward into the tray table area while you sleep rather than reclining backward. One popular such option would be the Skyrest Travel Pillow from the SkyMall catalog. If you are short-torsoed, you might even be able to simulate such by simply rolling a jacket up into a ball on the tray table.

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nice idea but this pillow is damn huge! –  Geeo Jan 30 '14 at 18:55

I haven't tried this method, but it's what immediately came to my mind when I saw this question:

Picture

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Love it! I may have to try that. –  mkennedy Dec 26 '11 at 18:47
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This looks rather uncomfortable. –  Karlson Jan 30 '14 at 18:41

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