Tips for Sleeping in the Car: Safety & Comfort First

February 28, 2022 | Casper Editorial Team
sleeping in a car sleeping in a car sleeping in a car

Packing your bags for a long road trip? If you’re a passenger, no doubt you’ll want to catch up on some zzz’s during the journey.

If you’re lucky enough to not be driving, a road trip is a great opportunity to hit the hay and snooze until you arrive at your destination. But how will you get comfortable? Should you bring a pillow? A sleep mask

Keep reading for our top 10 tips on how to sleep in a moving car. Or, say you’re driving solo and need to know how to sleep in a car overnight. Below, we’ll give tips on how to do so safely.

1. Stay Upright With Your Seatbelt On

sleep positions for car

To stay safe throughout the trip, make sure to keep your seatbelt on at all times. It can be tempting to unhook your seatbelt and snooze on your side—especially if you’re sitting in the back. Resist the temptation and keep the seatbelt on. 

On the same note, keep your seat upright and don’t recline it too far backward. If you recline, you won’t be as protected by the seatbelt and airbags in the event of a crash. 

2. Wear Comfortable Clothes

Plan to wear comfortable clothes with light, breathable fabrics during your trip. Kick off your shoes and doze in your favorite loungewear or a t-shirt and sweatpants. You can also try cozying up in our puffy, duvet-like blanket robe to bring the comfort of your bed wherever you go. 

Here are some of the best clothing materials to sleep in:

  • Cotton — lightweight and breathable
  • Silk — gentle on the skin
  • Linen — breathable and durable
  • Bamboo — soft and natural

3. Put on a Sleep Mask

sleep mask for car

If you have trouble sleeping in cars because of light, distractions, or motion sickness, shut them out completely and enjoy the benefits of a sleep mask. Sleeping in darkness promotes the body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Simulating nighttime with a sleep mask can help you squeeze in a more restful nap. 

Casper SnoozewearTM Sleep Mask is made with stretchy, soft, and breathable materials for pressure-free comfort. It helps block out noise as well as light — great for passengers to drown out the distracting sounds of the road.

4. Use a Sunshade

A sunshade is a good option for those who don’t want to wear a sleep mask. If you have sensitive skin or don’t like the feeling of a mask over your eyes, this is the next best way to block out light. 

Put a mesh sunshade on the window next to your seat to help block out the sun. They’re often used for infants during car rides, but no one says adults can’t take advantage of them, too. 

5. Try a Neck Pillow

You might associate neck pillows with sleeping on a plane, but they’re also great for car rides. A neck pillow keeps your head from falling forward and your neck from moving around in your sleep. It can help support your neck and keep you upright during the ride. 

6. Listen to Music or White Noise

Don’t forget to pack your headphones! When trying to fall asleep in a car, press play on a calming playlist. Or, if music won’t do the trick, try listening to white noise or pink noise

  • White noise plays all audible frequencies at the same intensity. Think whirring fans, TV static, or a humming air conditioner. It’s helpful to drown out other noises that could distract you. 
  • Pink noise plays louder lower frequencies while higher frequencies are diminished. It’s a little more soothing than white noise and can help improve sleep quality. Examples are rustling leaves, rainfall, and ocean waves — all sounds that can help you fall asleep fast
white noise vs pink noise

7. Snuggle Up With a Blanket

accessories for sleeping in car

Simulate the warmth of your bed by cuddling up with your favorite blanket. A blanket can also keep you warm in the car — especially if your family members like to crank up the AC. You can also bring along a weighted blanket, which is designed to hug your body. A weighted blanket has tons of benefits, like creating a calming feeling and reducing stress.

8. Rest on a Comfy Pillow

You can probably sleep without a pillow for an hour or so in the car. But if it’s a long trip, why not bring your pillow along for the ride? Putting a cloud-like pillow behind your head or against the window will help you drift off in no time. If more support behind your back helps you feel more comfortable, you can bring along a backrest pillow, too. 

9. Stare at the Horizon

Another trick you can try is to stare out the window at the horizon. Hold your gaze there for as long as you can. Before long, the hum of the car engine and the soothing skyline passing you by can help lull you to sleep. This can also be a good technique to help you fall back asleep if you wake up mid-car ride. 

10. Consider Taking a Sleeping Aid

Tried all of the above with no luck? You may benefit from a sleeping aid like melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help you fall asleep faster. Melatonin supplements are available over the counter, but be sure to check with your doctor before taking any sleep supplements. 

Doctors recommend starting with around 0.5 to 3 mg. It can kick in anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours after taking it. However, be aware that some people may experience side effects, like headaches, nausea, and dizziness. 

Tips for Sleeping in the Car Overnight

If you’re embarking on a solo road trip, you might also need to know how to sleep in your car overnight. Here are some quick tips to stay safe and comfortable.

how to sleep in a car overnight
  • Pack Bedding Supplies — Along with your other luggage, make sure to bring one or two pillows, a sleeping bag, a mattress pad or air mattress, and blankets.
  • Park in a Safe, Free Spot — Make sure to check local laws to see if you can legally park somewhere overnight. Try to find a place that has an accessible bathroom nearby. If it’s hot in your location, park in the shade. As a safety measure, text a friend your location before tucking in for the night. Typically, these are good options for places to stop: 
  • Rest stops and truck stops
  • 24-hour department stores and gyms 
  • Campsites
  • Churches
  • Neighborhoods that allow street parking
  • Lock Your Doors — Locking your doors is an absolute must for safety. Double-check that your car doors are locked before you go to sleep. 
  • Turn Off Your Car — Never leave your car running overnight. Keeping the engine running can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make a Bed in the Back Seat — If you can, fold down the rear seats of your car to create room for your bed. If you can’t, sleep on the back seats. Lay out your air mattress, sleeping bag, or mattress pad along with pillows across the flat surface. Use extra blankets or pillows to soften awkward protrusions, like stray armrests, that could make sleeping uncomfortable. 
  • Sleep With Your Head Slightly Elevated  — If your car isn’t parked on a flat surface, position yourself so that your heat is elevated over your legs. This will help promote blood flow and healthy breathing during the night.
  • Create Privacy — You can put sun shades or towels over your windows to create privacy and block out any street lights during the night. 
  • Regulate Temperature — Crack the sunroof or windows slightly for a bit of temperature regulation. To keep the bugs out, put a window screen over them. To keep safe, don’t open your windows all the way. If it’s hot, bring a battery-operated fan with you. If it’s chilly, wear lots of layers and stuff more blankets into your sleeping bag. Keep your extremities warm with wool gloves and socks. Avoid sleeping in your car altogether in extreme temperatures.

FAQs

How Do You Sleep During a Long Car Ride?

Sit upright with your seatbelt on. Close your eyes and use a facemask and headphones if needed to block out light and noise. Try supporting your head with a neck pillow to fall asleep more comfortably. 

Is It Safe to Lie Down In a Moving Car? 

No. Lying down in a moving car reduces your seatbelt’s effectiveness at keeping you safe in the event of an accident. Depending on your state’s seatbelt laws, it may also be illegal. 

Sleeping in a car instead of your bed may not be ideal, but with these tips, you’ll drift off quickly and wake back up at your destination in no time. 

No matter where you are, Casper’s got your back. We have plenty of sleep accessories to help you get that much-needed rest at any stage of the journey.