The Science of (Car) Sleep.

If anybody ever asks you if you would like to take a 15 hour drive up to
Maryland and back in a packed conversion van, don’t do it.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the option of denying that request. This last weekend, I spent most of Saturday at a little music festival called Facedown Fest in
Bowie, Maryland, but I spent most of Friday driving there, and all of Sunday driving back. “Why would anyone drive 15 hours from Florida to
Maryland and back in one weekend?” you may ask. Well, the truth is I still don’t know why. Maybe it was just for the chance to visit a Wawa convenience store, but I do have to say, that was the most uncomfortable drive I have ever been on. Mainly because all I wanted to do was sleep, but sitting in a captain’s chair that has lost its ability to recline doesn’t offer many options. However, you better believe I explored every single one of them. So, if you’re ever stuck in a similar situation, here are a few positions I found most helpful at squeezing the most comfort out of the car seat.

“The Lifeguard”

If you’ve ever gone to the beach and seen that vigilant lifeguard staring out into the open ocean through his black Ray-Bans and his chin resting in his hand, he’s not looking for sharks. He’s sleeping. This waterman’s “oldest trick in the book” is easily applied to finding a comfortable sleeping position when laying down isn’t an option. All you do is find a good arm rest and keep your head propped up with your arm. It’s simple and sly if you’re wearing sunglasses

the Benefits: This position takes the least amount of effort and is the fastest way to start snoozing and cruising

Why you’re still uncomfortable: You’re still sitting up straight, so comfort level has changed very little, and after a while you start to lose feeling in your wrists. Plus if there’s no arm rest, you’re basically out of luck. Also, if you’re driving, don’t think you’ll be clever and use this easy technique to your advantage. You’re not fooling anybody when you fall asleep at the wheel and wrap the car around a tree.

“The Sleeping Cat”

This one requires a little flexibility and will usually only work if you’re really small. With most of your weight on one hip, curl up as tight as you can on the seat and try to rest your head anywhere it will land. You’ll get the most comfort out of a seat next to the door, or one with an armrest, so you have a place for your head to rest. Try to get as close to the fetal position as possible by pulling your legs in and wrapping your arms around them. This will maximize your space saving, and other passengers will give you room since they think you’re having a nervous breakdown.

The Benefits:If you sleep through a whole trip like this, all your friends will nickname you “whiskers.”

Why you’re still uncomfortable: Once you fall asleep you’ll most likely want to spread out, which will cause your body to explode all over the back seat like a pipe bomb. There’s a good chance you’ll wake up completely inverted with your legs sticking out of the sun-roof.

“The Bridge”

This staple of the backseat is quite easy and demands little skill. All you do is lean forward and rest your head on the seat in front of you. If you need extra cushion for your noggin, cross your arms in front of you and use them as a pillow. The Bridge can also be easily converted to use in other settings, one being church, because most people think you’re just praying.

Benefits: The only space you take up is right in front of you, which is rarely used for its full potential.

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Why you’re still Uncomfortable: It can do a number on the lower back and you’ll most likely wake up with some kind of imprint on your forehead. This is especially a problem if you’re driving with someone who “pimped” out their ride and got something like “numba one stunna” embroidered on the back of their seats.

“The Invisible Hammock”

The Hammock is by far the most challenging sleeping technique, but in the end is most rewarding because it’s the only one that allows you to fully extend your body. First, slouch down into the seat so that your head is about half way down the backrest. Then, lift your legs up and secure them in the first place that’s available. In my case it was the van’s side door, so my body was at diagonal angle. If you’re lucky, your legs can rest on the dashboard. If you’re not so lucky, it may be the ceiling. Crossing your legs will usually help with your balance. This will give you the appearance that you’re lying in some invisible hammock, with your legs appearing to float in the air. At this point you can cross your hands behind your head to show you are master of the sleeping technique.

The Benefits: You’ll look the most comfortable out of everyone in the car. Most of that has to do with the fact you’ve taken up everyone else’s room by sticking your legs in places they aren’t supposed to be, but does that really matter?

Why you’re still uncomfortable:There should be an emphasis on LOOK most comfortable. The truth is, this actually works your body pretty hard. While the middle of your body is relaxed, your weight is being supported by your neck and your ankles. You’ll definitely feel that when you wake up. There is also the fact that if you get into a car accident in this position, your spine will be shaped like a Pringles chip for the rest of your life, and this may only be me, but I had the weirdest dreams in the hammock. One of them was kind of like the movie “Poltergeist,” except everything happened in this old house I used to live in and the little creepy lady wasn’t in it. However, if you start dreaming about that lady, I suggest you abort the invisible hammock immediately.

You know, on second thought all these still sound pretty bad. i think the moral of the story is to only take a road trip if you know an empty backseat will be readily available.

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