The Quest for Comfortable Airplane Napping

Tonight I'm thinking about sleeping on airplanes. Our family took a long airplane trip from California to Nashville today in order to help celebrate Jason's grandfather's 90th birthday this weekend.

Actually, our two-part flight and all the things that went with it (security lines, airport logistics) were just fine. However, I have found that if you want to take a nap on a plane, there is just one good seat to be in to do that. That would be the window seat, and today I wasn't there. Since we got up early to drive to Oakland, CA to catch our flight, I was getting a little sleepy as the day went on. However, being that I was in the center seat, I decided to keep myself awake doing other things. I just didn't want to do the head nod thing as I dozed off - especially with strangers sitting right beside me. It's just so embarrassing - you're dozing off happily, thinking your head is secure in its position back against the headrest, when - wham! your chin hits your sternum and you are not only rudely jerked awake, you also are furtively glancing around to see if anyone noticed.

I've been seeing people with those u-shaped head pillows, and they look kind of promising for potential airplane napping. However, it seems to me that they would mainly support the back of your neck and below your ears, but not under your chin, where most of the head bobbing occurs. Don't you wear them with the opening under your chin? Even if you wore them backwards, with the opening at the back, it seems like they wouldn't be tall enough to completely support your head, rendering you bob-less. It seems that you might need something taller, like the full neck brace you might wear after a neck injury, to completely hold your head up. Perhaps a neck brace in a padded version.

My idea for optimal plane or car sleepage would be some kind of soft fabric band that goes around the back of the head rest and then also across your forehead. This would allow you to doze peacefully, with your head softly secured to the head rest. Of course, this would never work on the longer flights, as your head band would obscure the television of the person behind you. Perhaps you could use some old nylon stocking, so they would be kind of transparent, allowing for optimal screen viewage - all though I'm sure there might be some resistance from travelers to the idea of wearing old stockings on their heads.

In a pinch, I suppose one could use a pair of large, soft boxer shorts to gently anchor one's head to the headrest, although the mental image of passengers with pairs of boxers on their heads is just to comical to pursue.

Ah, well. I'll work on the headband idea. Or perhaps I'll just hope for a window seat from now on.

Bob  – (14 August 2009 at 10:09)  

I know it was at the end of a long day when you came up with the boxer shorts idea. Sleep deprivation will do that for you.

My sleep-on-planes invention is a light harness under the neck and around the head that can then be attached to a point on the ceiling above you. Then your head is somewhat suspended like a baby swing. I guess sudden stops would be a problem, but then... a sudden stop on an airplane is a problem anyway, isn't it?

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