Car Naps

Introduction

If you are ever in a situation where you need to take a nap in your car, there are certain things to keep in mind for car naps. The aim of this blog post is to describe how to best sleep in a car and what to watch out for.

Sleeping positions

Different sleeping positions are going to work better in certain vehicles, and will require different amounts of preparation.

Sitting

There are a few different ways to sit and sleep.

The first way is leaning back in the driver’s seat and covering your head with a neck support. You can also lean your head against the door in this position. However, there are a couple things to note:

  • This can be somewhat uncomfortable unless you are familiar with sleeping on hard surfaces. In addition, you likely will need to adjust the seat’s incline compared to regular driving.
  • It can also be somewhat difficult to position the body to allow for this position without much discomfort on the back.
  • Alternatively, hop onto the passenger seat, tilt it back a bit. Then, place your legs on the dashboard. See the picture below.

If this position does not work for you, you can try another option. The second way is sitting on the passenger seat and leaning towards the dashboard. See the picture above.

Depending on the car model, this can be uncomfortable. Thus, if you choose this method, you should bring a pillow and place it under your arms. Some car models also have low seats. In this case, you can lift yourself up by placing a hard pillow on the seat.

The third method is sleeping in normal driving positions, possibly with a somewhat inclined seat. Furthermore, you can just lean your head towards the neck support. See the picture above.

In this situation, it is smart to wear an airplane neck support pillow. It can be very taxing on the neck to support the head leaning towards the torso. However, some people are able to sleep like this, so try what works best for you.

Lying down

When you lie down and sleep in that position, the car model and your height will both play a massive difference and set the viability of this sleeping strategy. The main goal of this method is to just lie down without having to prepare much.

However, you would need to adjust the incline of the passenger/driver’s seat as far as possible and just sleep there. See the picture in the previous section.

The next option is to sleep in the backseat, so that your body covers all the seats. This way your legs also lift up in a V-shape, as demonstrated in the picture below. In this case, it can also be beneficial to support your head with a thin pillow underneath.

The third option is going to require the most preparation.

  • It consists of bending down the backseats and sleeping with your head on top of them. Your legs will stretch towards the tailgate, possibly as far as outside the door. Refer to the picture above.
  • This is by far the most comfortable position to sleep in the car. Furthermore, you can customize your car to make this position even more comfortable.
  1. You can place a mattress in the trunk and fold it out to prepare for nap times.
  2. Use pillows and covers as you see fit.
  3. The best part is that the trunk can store a lot of stuff. Especially, it potentially takes up very little space depending on how much time you take to prepare for the nap.
  4. However, not all cars have the necessary design for this option. Thus, make sure you check your car thoroughly and test the comfort of sleeping inside.

After all possible customization and checks, you can settle for one of the aforementioned methods.

Accessories

The most useful accessories that can suit any sleeping positions include a sleeping mask and a car window shade. If you want to sleep in a sitting position, consider investing in a travel pillow

Temperature for car naps

The temperature plays a very important role for car naps or sleep in general.

Summer

During the summer, the inside of the car can become very hot. Take note of the following:

  • Pay attention to parking in the shade. If you have time, go open all car doors a few minutes before napping.
  • Driving with the air conditioner (AC) on for a few minutes will likely not help much if you have to park under the sun. The interior of the car will reheat very quickly. Thus, if your car is too hot you choose to cool it down by driving, park in the shade.
  • Many people have found it extremely difficult to fall asleep in a hot car. If you cannot afford to cool it down before sleep, the best option is sleep elsewhere.
  • During the nap, a powered-on car will both drain gas and increase the risk of breathing in carbon monoxide. Therefore, you should definitely avoid this. 

Winter

During the winter, the car can become very cold. For some people, it may even be freezing. Fortunately, the time it takes for the car to cool down after driving for a decent is about the same as a nap duration. Therefore, napping during the winter is much less of a hassle than during the summer.

It is also possible to wear a lot of clothes to compensate for the cold, if you do not heat the car up while driving. Be sure to use plenty of insulation in the form of blankets or sheepskin between you and the seat if you sleep in a cold car.

Alarms

Since it is recommended to use more than one alarm device to secure waking on time, a single phone alarm is a bad idea. Consider investing in an analog alarm clock to use in tandem with your phone. For the optimal alarm setup, visit the Products page. 

Risks from car naps

There are several possible risks associated with sleeping in a car. Make sure to prepare for them depending on your location and the weather.

Driving tired

Driving just before nap time to move the car or adjust the temperature can be very dangerous. Because the naps should be at the same time every day, most people would become very tired a few minutes before them. Therefore, driving in tiresome states magnifies the risk of self-harm and harming other people. Avoid doing it unless it is absolutely necessary. If you need to move your car, consider asking a friend to drive for you instead.

Asphyxiation

As touched upon earlier in this post, leaving the engine of the car running when you nap is not a sound idea. This is because the fumes can cause you to asphyxiate. To combat this, do not leave your engine running while you nap, regardless of how hot or cold it is outside. Additionally, open a window a little in fitting weather to improve the airflow in the car.

Other people/surroundings

If you nap in a shady place, ill-intentioned people can prey on your sleep to steal your car or belongings. Countermeasures would always be necessary. Park in a safe place and lock all your doors. Apparently, if you nap at your workplace for example, this is not much to worry about.

  • However, curious people can still see you immobile in a car randomly during the day. This may be a little awkward and inconvenient.
  • Still, if they are extra helpful, they can even wake you up to make sure you are safe.
  • While that is good will, more than likely you will not be able to fall back asleep. As a result, you nap will be in ruins. To prevent this, stick a large note that says you are sleeping. An example of what to write is:

“I am sleeping between xx:xx and yy:yy. Please do NOT wake me up at this time. Curious? Visit https://polyphasic.net

Where to park

The main question to ask yourself when you park is: Will I have time to get to the car, prepare, nap and get back? You don’t want to run to the car for a nap, since exercising can increase sleep onset.

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Car napping on Dual Core 1 and other preparation activities
  • If you are short on time each day, consider preparing the nap spot when you initially arrive at the destination. This serves to reduce the time it takes when your nap is only a few minutes away.
  • If you are napping during your lunch break at work, it might be beneficial to eat something quick, like a cold lunch. Saving a couple minutes at a time can all add up quickly. 
  • The ideal parking spot is somewhere shady with a short travel distance and is a safe location. Remember, it is better to skip a nap or move it than to be in harm’s way to catch it on time.
  • If the only place you can park is a very suboptimal location, consider sleeping somewhere else than your car that day.

Main author: Crimson

Artist: Zenyua

Page last updated: 26 December 2020

2 thoughts on “Car Naps

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