High maintenance neck seeks flying pillow of dreams
March 27, 2019 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I just need a pillow to use on long flights that will actually support my high maintenance neck, is that so much to ask? I have already tried: TRTL pillow. Did not support my neck enough. Nap Anywhere. It also did not support my neck enough. Also tried REleaf neck brace which was great at choking me while also not supporting my neck. As you may have noticed, my neck needs higher support than average.

Yes, I have also tried the typical half donut shaped pillows (inflatable and stuffed) which are never comfortable enough. What ends up happening is that the weight of my head pushes the pillow down too far and neck pain ensues. I guess my goal is to not allow my neck to bend very much in any direction, and the support must function just as well in a middle seat as in a window seat. Do I need to try some kind of medical grade cervical neck brace suitable for Plaintiff #1 in a courtroom drama? Or that bizarre Ostrich pillow? If you also require massive neck support to sleep on flights, what has worked for you? What should I throw some money at next? What should I stay way from? Please only recommend if you have first or second-hand experience with the product.
posted by oxisos to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am giving you one of those "I haven't tried this, but..." recommendations, but... I too can't handle my head tilted to the side in any way, and the only pain-free way I've slept on a plane was with a foam-bead-stuffed pillow that was the perfect height and stiffness to put on the tray table and lean forward onto. Unfortunately that pillow moved on and I haven't been able to find another perfect one, but I do have a couple of this style that replicate the basic "lean forward instead of to the side" idea in my shopping cart, waiting for my next planned plane ride.
posted by brainmouse at 5:54 PM on March 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

This may sounds like an oddball solution, but it has worked for me. It might also work for you if are not so tall that your neck is higher than the top of the airplane/train/bus seat.

I have neck problem and am also short: airplane seats are horrible for me because they force my back and neck into a downward curve which also forces my head forward leading to miserable pain.

I fix this by using a back pillow that shifts my butt forward in the seat, creating a gap between my back and the seat that is filled by the pillow. The result is that my neck is no longer forced downwards. I can then either use my curved neck pillow to support my next and prevent my head from turning, or, if I'm lucky, I don't need to use the neck pillow at all.

Shorter: Instead of focusing on my neck, I alter the position of my back using a pillow and leverage the hardness of the headrest/seat back to keep my neck straight.
posted by skye.dancer at 5:55 PM on March 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm unable to get any rest with pillows that make me angle my head to the side. The key thing that worked for me was an adjustable collar that supported my neck from bending forward without constricting. I got this one and it's great.
posted by homesickness at 6:17 PM on March 27, 2019

I recently flew with something like this (not this exact one) and it was one of my favorites. I've tried a LOT of plane pillows, including the ostrich which is not that great and makes people want to talk to you
posted by tealcake at 6:26 PM on March 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another "not sure if this will work" idea: I have an inflatable pillow for cervical spinal decompression. Here's an example, you can find others. It has 3 donuts stacked on top of each other and it inflates with the same bulb device that inflates a blood pressure cuff. It will definitely hold your neck straight.
posted by CathyG at 8:27 AM on March 28, 2019

Surprisingly, I really love this travel pillow even though it makes me look like a giant dork. It's really a headband with two small pillows on the back sides, but when you lean your head back in an airplane seat, it keeps your head from rolling in either direction. So for me at least it keeps my neck perfectly straight, unlike the pillows that are intended for you to lean your head a bit onto them. Bonus points for the eye mask flap for when it's bright. It really works for me, and my husband tried it and loved it so much we bought another one.
posted by thejanna at 10:34 AM on March 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Similar idea to CathyG, but cheaper: I use one of these Cervical collars. Its tightness is adjustable with velcro, and it's the only thing that's ever worked for me.
posted by Citrus at 4:44 PM on March 28, 2019

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