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How to Sleep in a Car – Let's Find Out!

image of our writer Filip Maric

Written By Filip

Sleep Advisor

Featured image for How to sleep in a car.

29 March 2024 7 min read

After a long drive or hiking, you desperately need to catch some z's. You are probably wondering how to sleep in a car and whether that is possible at all. Well, you've made your bed, now lie on it. We are bringing you the best possible solutions for a good night's sleep on a back seat.

Don't expect lux comfort when it comes to sleeping in a car. Sleeping in the car is a daunting task whether you're on a road trip or just need a power nap but driving a car overnight is even harder.

Lucky for you, some of us have already been through it. Okay, you can’t sleep in a car and wake up feeling like having slept in a five-star hotel. But, you can experience a two-star hotel experience without a doubt.

How do you avoid waking up feeling like you've just been hit by a Knight Bus? The key to success is preparation. In this guide, we will tell you how we turned the car into a cosy sleeping space.

Choosing the right vehicle for sleeping

An image of a woman laying on the hood of the car.

The truth is that some cars are more comfortable than others. That's why you should take a closer look at some of the best types of vehicles for sleeping. From Bentley to Dacia, we've got you covered with some helpful information. Let's choose the perfect car for your next sleeping adventure! First, we will look at the basics. Consider the following factors:

  • Space – look for a car with plenty of headroom and legroom
  • Comfort – consider cars with supportive and adjustable seats
  • Privacy – choose cars with tinted windows or add some curtains
  • Safety and temperature control – look for good ventilation

And these are our favourites: Subaru Outback represents the new generation. It offers you spacious back seats that can be fully adjusted so you can sleep comfortably. It sounds like a good nap to us!

Next on our list is the Volvo XC90. It stands out for its middle seats, which can be slid in two directions and has great car battery.

On the other hand, the Mazda CX-5 even allows a three-way split (completely flat floor).

Vans are definitely the best cars to sleep in, and the Citroen Berlingo is no exception. It has a lot of “headroom.”

Essential gear for sleeping in a car

An image of a woman sleeping in a car.

If you're planning to catch some sleep on the go, you need the right gear to fall asleep. It can make all the difference in your comfort and safety. In order to get everything, check our list!

Sleeping bag

A protective sleeping bag with a zipper whose primary function is thermal insulation can help you sleep in a car comfortably. The type of heat insulator in the sleeping bag depends on the climate in which you will use it.

If you use it in conditions with higher air humidity, and low temperatures, these are bags with synthetic insulation. Down sleeping bags are even more suitable for protection since they are lighter, compact, and comfortable.

There are also bags to stop evaporation with a membrane. Such ones are used for extremely low temperatures.

Pillows and blankets

With pillows and blankets, the most important feature is size. Since cars vary, estimate the appropriate dimensions. You don't want anything too big or too small.

Look for breathable materials that provide the best heat regulation. We advise avoiding materials that are itchy or uncomfortable to the touch. The next important feature is portability; consider how easy pillows and blankets are to transport.

If you are planning a long trip, be sure to read the fabric care instructions. Some models are much more complicated/easier to maintain than others. Check if the manufacturer's instructions are compatible with your conditions.

Tip: Lightweight and compact options are the best for the car.

Window coverings

What is an essential thing about window covering? Of course, it has to cover everything! In that case, consider the following:

Remember, before buying, consider your specific needs (level of privacy, installation, storage).

Earplugs and eye mask

Earplugs have many advantages, but only if you choose the suitable model. To avoid making a mistake, check the noise reduction rating (NRR). This way, you will be sure that external noise will not disturb your sleep. Since you will wear them for many hours, they must fit your ears.

With eye masks, making a choice is a bit more difficult. One of the main reasons is the various designs that distract us! Well, turn a blind eye when it comes to aesthetics.

Focus on more important things, like material, coverage, and breathability. If you have sensitive skin or eyes, choose a sleep mask made of soft and non-irritating material such as bamboo.

Finding the best place to sleep

An image of a woman sleeping in her car

We understand you. Finding the perfect place to sleep in the car is difficult. Still, with some research and planning, it becomes much simpler. Just follow these steps:

Legal challenges

First and foremost – check the laws. Sleeping in a car in a public place may be potentially prohibited. So, it depends on the law and specific circumstances. Additionally, you should consult with an attorney familiar with such regulations.

You can also find useful information on the local government website or at the local police department. Ask about restrictions or regulations; you will surely get many answers. However, these are not the only places where you will find information.

Explore court cases online or join communities. There are groups of people who live in cars or travel frequently. However, they have experience with legal challenges and will be able to provide you with valuable information and support.

Safe locations

Next, you always choose safe areas. Even if you have the slightest doubt, check on the Internet the part of the city where you will be parking. Look for well-lit areas with low crime rates that are visible to others.

One of the safest places is parking lots. Unfortunately, not all allow overnight parking. So check the conditions, you might get lucky!

Another practical thing is (car) camping apps. There you will find a lot of reviews, tips and photos that will help you choose a safe place.

Tip: When street parking your car, avoid hills or bumps.

Choosing a quiet spot

Busy roads and highways are not good conditions for sleeping. Therefore, choosing a peaceful spot is very important. Instead of loud places, stick to residential areas. They are quiet at night.

Of course, first, make sure you can park there. After that, avoid driveways or access to homes. Parks, rest stops, or campgrounds are great places to comfortably sleep. Many of them also have areas for overnight parking.

After finding your seat, use earplugs – just in case. Remember, safety should be your priority when choosing a spot for car sleeping.

Finding amenities

To really be safe and relaxed, you should have access to specific amenities. Here are some tips for finding amenities:

• Places for rest – these are rest areas such as restrooms, picnic tables, and vending machines

 Campgrounds – many sites have showers, fire pits and other facilities

• Parking lots – look for larger parking lots (supermarkets, gyms, shopping centers)

• Gas stations – transit stations with restrooms, convenience stores and foods

Think about how the place looks day or night, weekdays or weekends. Many places can be peaceful and relatively safe one day and not the next.

Tips for sleeping comfortably in a car

An image of a man stretching after sleeping in a car.

Most people fold down the front seats and use them as lounge chairs. However, they can make sleeping uncomfortable. On the other hand, the rear seats are short and do not provide enough space for comfort. What to do, then?

Position yourself in the ideal position and prepare the bedding!

Sleeping positions

We're afraid there won't be enough room for the starfish sleeping position (arms and legs spread out). On the other hand, a semi-fetal position is excellent for sleeping in the car. However, we can give you universal tips to make the process easier for everyone!

For example, try backseat sleeping. That way, you'll have plenty of room to stretch out. If you are taller or have a larger car, you may be more comfortable with the semi-upright position in the front seat.

Get an inflatable air mattress for more space and a more comfortable sleeping surface in your own car.

Tip: Try different sleeping positions to find the best one for you.

Staying warm & cosy

Okay, we assume you've eaten and went to the toilet. Now it's time to tuck into your new bed. However, it would be good if you had ventilated the car's interior beforehand. Of course, as soon as it becomes comfortable to sleep, close it for safety reasons.

Then, lower the seat as far as possible. If you sleep in the back, move the front seats for more space. So that nothing gets in your way, remove your seat belts.

We must not forget about the clothes! Pack more layers if it's cold outside. For example, sportswear is ideal because it maintains body temperature. Finally, find a comfortable bedding set and a suitable sleeping position.

Conclusion

Overall, falling asleep in a car challenging and fun experience at the same time. Although sleeping in a car is not the most luxurious option, it offers a different and unique experience, especially if you follow our advice.

Do not forget that the type of car is a crucial factor. Logically, a more luxurious and larger vehicle offers more comfort. Equally important is the location where you sleep. Don't forget to prevent the potentially danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Caution! Don't relax until you check the law. As long as you follow the rules and the roadside signs, you won't have a problem with the police.

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