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How to Make the Best of Sleeping in Your Car

Sleep Tip #9: If sleeping in car, turn off engine.
WHILE SLEEPING ON a comfortable, quality mattress is definitely the best way catch some quality shut-eye, there are plenty of reasons, both planned an unexpected, that you might find yourself spending a night in a vehicle. Whether an impromptu road trip necessitates spending a night or two in your car, or your situation will involve sleeping in a car for an extended amount of time, there are a few basic principles to make car sleeping as comfortable as possible given the circumstances.

Safety Considerations

Do not pull over just anywhere. The shoulder of the road is a highly dangerous place to leave a vehicle, and in most places, it’s illegal. You’ll need to find a safe place to park to reduce the risk of vandalism and keep yourself out of harm’s away. You should also take safety precautions including locking the doors, leaving the windows rolled almost all the way up, and telling a friend or family member where you are, if possible. Don’t ever sleep in a car with the engine running, even if it’s extremely cold; you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.

Where to Sleep in Your Car

When looking for a place to sleep in your car, aim for getting away from roadways as much as possible. Parking lots are ideal, but many places prohibit overnight parking. You’ll also want to check up on your city’s homelessness or transient laws to avoid potential legal trouble. Wherever you park, look for signage indicating that overnight parking is not allowed.

Where to park:

    • Some retail stores, such as Walmart, allow overnight parking.
    • Rest stops permit overnight parking, but are not necessarily safe. Check to see whether yours is regularly patrolled.
    • Public parks and beaches may offer parking for free or for a small fee.
    • The parking lots of churches and other religious buildings generally allow free parking.
    • In a pinch, a quiet residential street may be an option for a single night.
How to Maximize Comfort

Once you’ve found a safe place to stay put for the night, work on making your environment as conducive to quality sleep as possible. If your car sleeping experience is preplanned, you’ll probably have packed the essentials for a fairly comfortable night’s sleep, such as a mat or air mattress, pillow, blankets, and maybe even ear plugs and a sleep mask.

If you find yourself camping in the car unexpectedly, you may have to get creative. Take stock of what you have on hand. Things like towels or extra clothes can double as pillows and blankets in a pinch.

Regardless of whether you have appropriate bedding, you’ll need to maximize your sleeping space in order to find a comfortable position and get adequate rest. If you can lay across the back seat, this will be the easiest and probably the least uncomfortable option. If your backseat folds down, you can empty your trunk and sleep lying down with your body partially in the trunk. man sleeping in car.jpgIf neither of these options work, you’re stuck with sleeping in the front seat in a slightly reclined position. Most people find it difficult to sleep this way, but it’s better than no sleep at all.

Here are a few more tips to make the most of your car sleeping adventure:

    • Loosen your clothes or put on the most comfortable attire you have with you. Take off your shoes, unless it’s very cold.
    • Hang blankets or clothing in the windows both for privacy and to create a darker sleeping environment.
    • Unless it’s very cold, leave a window or sun roof cracked for ventilation. Otherwise, you’ll wake up in a clammy, fogged-up car.

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