How To Sleep In a Moving Car Comfortably

Road trips are definitely fun and exciting. However, you may feel sleepy as soon as the scenery gets boring, and the fatigue brought about by being seated for long periods kicks in.

The good news is that you can sleep provided that you are not the designated driver. The bad news is that it can be quite uncomfortable to sleep in a moving car.

This is true most especially if it’s packed with family members or friends, including those who tend to make a lot of noise. Feeling queasy as a result of motion sickness is also a hindrance to having some Z’s.

So how can you sleep comfortably in a moving car? The key is prepping for the trip if your goal is to catch some shut-eye in between the starting point and destination. It is a definite must for your backpack or sling bag to contain some essentials in order to sleep in a moving car while on the road.

With these must-have items within your easy reach, it is very much possible for you to take a trip to dreamland when traveling by car.

There are so many things about a road trip that can keep you from having restorative and rejuvenating sleep. From the shakes and bumps to raucous and squirmy co-passengers, it would seem as though getting some sweet dreams is a privilege that has to be thrown out the window.

Well, if truth be told, it is very much possible to have some much-needed sleep while the vehicle is moving and everyone else inside it can’t wait to get to the end of the journey.

And that is why if you are about to embark on a road trip soon, don’t stop reading now. By the end of this article, you will know a bunch of tips and tricks that can make you an expert in sleeping comfortably while in a moving car.

Make Yourself Feel as Comfy as Possible Before Going to Sleep

If only you could always get from point A to point B in a minivan that can accommodate an inflatable mattress, then you’d have no trouble enjoying multiple siestas until such time that you have arrived at the destination!

In reality, we spend the majority of the road trip in a seated position in a cramped car that makes it virtually impossible to enjoy high-quality sleep.

Luckily, there are certain steps that may be taken if you would like to be asleep instead of putting up with the boredom of long hours of car travel and the woes of being in an enclosed space with a bunch of people.

Dress for success

One of the various things that you may do to feel comfy and relaxed while on a road trip is to take off your shoes. The moment that your feet are free from your footwear, you will immediately feel the perks that it’s known to offer.

Something as simple as this is usually more than enough for a lot of people to be able to enjoy some Z’s while traveling by car. Just make sure that you bring and also wear an extra pair of socks if it’s cold — you will certainly have a difficult time falling asleep in a moving car if it feels like your toes are dunked in a bucket of ice!

Speaking of which, it is a must to bring with you a blanket. Opting for something out of polyester that feels like fleece is a great idea. That’s because it can be easily stashed in a crammed bag, and it can provide enough protection from low temperatures.

When taking a road trip in winter, check that you have all the protection you will need against the freezing cold, such as mittens, ear muffs, a scarf, and a knit cap.

Sleeping when it’s hot

It is an entirely different matter if your long-haul car travel is taking place during the hottest days of the year. Needless to say, you should put on clothes that are out of breathable fabrics such as cotton.

Going for light-colored ones, including most especially white, is recommended as black and other dark colors absorb the sun’s UV radiation.

If setting the air conditioner to full blast is not doing the trick, then do not sleep with closed windows — nothing can disrupt your sleep more than sweat dripping down your face and neck, and flooding every nook and cranny of your body.

Having the Right Weapons is a Definite Must

One look and it’s plain to see that a car seat is not designed to act as a bed even if it’s fully reclined. This is something that can make trying to sleep in a moving car a really frustrating endeavor.

It’s a good thing that you can always bring with you certain things that can take you as close to stopping at a motel or notel — you know, the term used to refer to a sleazy kind of inn — or spending several minutes on different parking lots along the way.

Choose a right pillow

And what’s that one thing that you should never be without if you are planning on getting some Z’s comfortably while on a road trip? A pillow!

Failure to take with you one that can provide sufficient amounts of comfort can lead to neck pain and headache after having a nap.

Fortunately, these days, there are lots of travel pillows to use while sleeping on a road trip They also come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some of them look like regular pillows but smaller, while others are designed to provide support to the neck and head as well.

Then there are also those that are intended to support the lower back. Oftentimes referred to as lumbar pillows or supports, they are specifically designed for people who experience lower back pain when traveling.

Choose the best seat in the car

When going on a road trip, it is always a fantastic idea to be seated right next to the window. That’s because it lets you enjoy the view outside. And more importantly, it gives you a place on which you may rest your head when the first few signs of sleepiness make their presence known.

sleeping in a moving car vehicle

It’s not enough, however, that you claim that much-coveted window seat ahead of everybody else — you should also remember to bring pillows and place one between your face and the window.

This provides a cushion that is necessary for the prevention of red marks or bruises on your face or even a bump on the forehead. It will also help a lot if you let the driver know that you are about to get some sleep so that he or she could steer clear of anything that could wake you up.

Getting some shut-eye can be difficult if you are seated next to a window, and the sun is blistering. This is when the use of retractable or mesh coverings for your car windows can come in very handy. If they’re not around, it is perfectly fine for you to simply put on a sleep mask.

Make Some Noise for Some Noise-Reducing Strategies

With the help of some pillows as well as a sleep mask or car window covering, you can reduce or eliminate physical discomfort and the sun, respectively.

However, there is another thing inside a car during a long trip that can keep you from spending some time in dreamland, and that’s the noise that your co-passengers make.

You love your family and friends, but you hate that some of them can’t stop chatting, singing to the songs on the radio — or from their smartphones or pocket MP3 player — and complaining about the long-haul car travel itself.

It is a good thing that there are a few things that you may do in order to keep unnecessary noise from letting you fall asleep. Something as simple as putting on earplugs is oftentimes enough for the creation of a quiet environment essential for you to have your siesta begun.

However, do take note that not all earplugs are created equal. It is highly recommended for you to invest in a pair that comes with superb quality, something that is intended for industrial purposes. Otherwise, the noise created by everyone else in the car will still bug your eardrums.

Definitely, you should go for earplugs that are comfortable to wear. There is no point in wearing earplugs capable of getting rid of noise if they are making your ear canals hurt. Some people prefer earplugs out of foam, while others choose those that are out of silicone.

Before buying a pair of earplugs, check out lots of consumer reviews posted on the web. You may also get the suggestions of family members and friends who are experts at sleeping while traveling.

Are you a music lover who oftentimes listens to soothing songs in order to reduce stress and lull yourself to sleep? Then make sure that you remember to stash in your backpack, sling bag, or pocket a pair of earphones that will allow you to snooze with the help of the tunes you love.

If you are someone who tends to travel by land or air, it is a wonderful idea for you to invest in high-quality headphones with noise-canceling features.

In some cases, the noise canceling is passive — it simply blocks out noise around with a tight seal. In other cases, it is active — it creates a sound capable of canceling out noise from the environment.

There are pros and cons that come with each type of noise-canceling feature. For instance, headphones that have passive noise canceling are easier on the pocket but may not completely eliminate external noise.

Headphones with active noise canceling, on the other hand, cost a lot more and have to be powered up by batteries, but a lot of consumers say that they are more effective at keeping unnecessary noise at bay.

Other than music, you may also count on audiobooks or guided meditation. Listening to binaural beats or white noise, in particular, that help to induce sleep is also an option.

Popping a Pill When All Else Fails

Do you often have a bout of insomnia? Then by now, you must have an over-the-counter sleep aid that you put your trust in each time you are having a hard time falling asleep.

Well, that preferred pill of yours can help you get some much-needed sleep while spending several hours in a moving car.

Antihistamines, or drugs used for allergies, are some of the most preferred OTC sleep aids. No, they are not specifically made for beating insomnia.

However, one of their most common side effects is drowsiness, which is something that you could benefit from tremendously if you would like to enjoy some shut-eye while waiting to get to your destination.

More often than not, the drowsy effects of antihistamines tend to kick off in just 30 minutes.

Those who suffer from motion sickness simply take a motion sickness drug. Not only does this approach help to get rid of motion sickness, but it also encourages sleep.

Just like antihistamines, drugs for motion sickness are notorious for causing drowsiness. Some people who do not experience motion sickness also take motion sickness drugs if getting some forty winks while on the road is part of the itinerary.

Fret not if you are not a huge fan of pills that promote sleepiness. That’s because you may also count on teas that help to relax the mind and body, and thus make it so much easier for you to fall asleep.

Some of the most popular teas for individuals who are battling insomnia include chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and passionflower teas. You may place the tea of your choice in a vacuum flask and take a few sips of it when you feel like taking a quick trip to dreamland.

You may also count on the power of essential oils if you would like to spend a few hours sleeping while inside a moving car. Chamomile and lavender essential oils, just like their tea counterparts, are scientifically proven to help promote sleep.

Bergamot, valerian, sweet marjoram, and clary sage essential oils are also effective. These days, you may purchase essential oils in roll-on types for easy application.

There are also essential oils available that are perfect for dealing with motion sickness if it’s the one that is keeping you from feeling comfortable or sleeping while traveling.

Peppermint and spearmint essential oils are loved by a lot of those who are suffering from motion sickness.

As you can see, popping a pill in the mouth is not the only solution for getting some sleep while spending several hours inside a car with your family members and friends.

If you prefer a more all-natural route, then you may count on some types of teas or essential oils.

Traveling With Kids Can Keep at Bay Much-Needed Sleep

Are there little kids who will be taking the road trip with you? No matter if they are your children, siblings, cousins, or nephews or nieces, one thing will always remain true: having them around can prevent you from falling asleep.

Sometimes it can be due to the fact that they have to be taken care of, while other times it can be because they make lots of noise!

If long-haul car travels are oftentimes extremely challenging for adults, then they are certainly more difficult for little ones who can get easily bored.

This is why one of the most important tips for children on how to sleep in moving car is that their favorite toys or books have to be around and handed to them each time they are starting to act up.

These things can make them feel happy, safe, and at home, too, and that is why they are less likely to turn from adorable to impossible.

However, try to avoid bringing as well as handing them electronic toys that make a lot of noise as it can keep you from having some sleep inside the car.

Sticking to stuffed toys is a great idea as they double as pillows, and thus they can encourage kids to feel comfortable, which is necessary for making them fall asleep.

Speaking of pillows, it will also help a lot if you pack their favorite pillows — kids and adults alike have favorite pillows! Do they have blankets that they can’t sleep without? Then remember to stash them in the car before leaving.

Reducing the amount of sunlight getting to them is recommended as well. Meaning to say, the use of those retractable or mesh coverings for your car windows is good not only for you but the little ones, too.

It also helps to reduce visual stimulus, which is something that can encourage them to sleep instead.

Don’t forget to bring their favorite snacks because small kids tend to have tantrums, whether traveling or not if their stomachs are growling.

However, stay away from those that could cause tummy aches or frequent diaper changes. Instead of having some peace and quiet while on a road trip, complete chaos may be the one that you may encounter.

And since we’re already talking about giving them tummy-friendly foods, you yourself should also remember to steer clear of those that can leave you gassy and bloated as they can make your travel super uncomfortable and less conducive to sleep.

Beans, lentils, cruciferous vegetables, and dairy food products are some common examples of gas-forming foods.

The Takeaway

Road trips are both fun and exciting. Unfortunately, it can be tiring as well, and it can be challenging to catch some shut-eye while you’re on the road. However, by preparing for it, you can get some sleep so that you will look and feel refreshed when you arrive at the destination. Safe trip and sweet dreams!


Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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