Tips for Sleeping in Small Cars

Young woman sleeps in car

[Martin Novak] / [iStock] / Thinkstock

There are plenty of circumstances which may land you sleeping in the car: a full campground, fear of large, powerful animals or a forgotten tent. Or, perhaps you remembered the tent but your friend, who is inside, is suffering from terrible gas resulting from some well intended but poorly executed combination of drinking and eating cheap beer and beans. Whatever the reason, if you need to sleep in a car, particularly a small one, there are a few tips that will help you get your rest.

Body Positions
Sleeping in either of the front seats benefits those who are able to fall asleep on their backs. For side sleepers and stomach sleepers, a normal seat presents a problem, unless you are able to bend your legs backwards or sideways. Consider the often overlooked fetal position. To perform the fetal position, tuck your legs into your body as close as possible to get your entire body on the seat. You can sometimes hold this position by wedging your knees and feet between the center console or engaged emergency brake and the door. You may also opt for a more contemporary position, with your feet propped up onto the dash board.

Seat Positions
A reclined seat is obviously the best way to approximate a real bed in a car, but getting the best angle can require a few tricks. First, make sure that there is nothing behind the seat that may inhibit it from leaning back. Experiment with sliding the seat forward and backward. On some small cars, removing the head rest and sliding the seat forward may allow for a continuous sleeping surface, extending from the backrest, straight onto the back seat.

Leg room is great when riding in the car, but when attempting to lay down, that space is awkward and frustrating. Use backpacks, firewood, garbage or small children to raise the floor level where your legs are. This will help elevate your feet and allow you to stretch out at a more neutral angle.

Consider the overnight temperature where you are sleeping. If it is going to be warm, crack the windows a bit. For cold nights, turn the car on and blast the heat on high until you are on the verge of losing your mind. Then, turn the car off and allow the heat to dissipate slowly. You should get a few minutes of cozy warmth before you begin to freeze to death.

The best place to sleep in a small car is the front seat, on the passenger side. The back seat does not allow you stretch out and the driver’s side restricts your sleeping space with steering wheels, gas and brake pedals. If there are other people in the car, consider ways to secure your position in the best seat before going to bed. Tricks, scams, plots and schemes are all fair game to get that seat.

By Patrick Hutchison