Skip to Content

How To Sleep In A Moving Car

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

To learn how this content was created please read our Editorial Guidelines.

In order to sleep on a long car ride, you need to make sure you are wearing a seatbelt and sitting in a comfortable position that supports your head. To fall asleep fast, make sure the cabin is at an appropriate temperature and you are blocking out the sun. Wear warm clothing and use a car sleeping pillow for comfort.

This article will get straight to the point and explain how to sleep in a moving car comfortably! Sometimes on a long car ride, you may want to fall asleep in a car to get some much-needed rest prior to reaching your destination.

In this post, we will discuss 10 tips on how to get comfortable for a quick snooze or power nap.

Affiliate Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please see our advertising disclosure for more details.

Stop first for a quick stretch

When you are tired on a long car journey it can be difficult to get comfortable. Stop briefly at a rest stop and do some stretches, use the bathroom, and remove any trash from the car. You can also adjust your seat position to make it comfortable. This means that when you do try to relax, it will be easier to find a good sitting position whilst still being safe.

Choose a safe position

A good position for sleeping in a moving car is to tilt the seat back slightly and sit upright. Lean to one side and use a neck pillow or item of clothing to support your head. If you are able to move your seat back so that you can stretch out your legs, this helps too. You can stuff clothing between you and the side of the vehicle to reduce the noise and vibrations caused by driving as well as making it cozy.

Keep your seatbelt on

Make sure that you are wearing your seatbelt at all times during your car ride. It can be tempting to remove the seatbelt and lie the seat flat in order to fall asleep faster, but this is very dangerous. If you have an accident while in that position you could come to serious harm.

Set a comfortable cabin temperature

If the cabin is too hot it will make it more difficult to fall asleep. A good idea is to first open the windows to let lots of fresh air in. After you have done this you can turn the heating on to warm the cabin and create a comfortable sleeping environment.

Make sure your head is supported

One of the biggest challenges when falling asleep in the car is that you repeatedly wake up again due to your head being unsupported. Make sure you are in a position where you can fall asleep without your head flopping down and waking you up again.

The best way to do this is by using a comfortable neck pillow or an item of clothing to rest on. This travel sleeping kit on Amazon is perfect!

MLVOC Travel Pillow 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Comfortable & Breathable Cover – Machine Washable, Airplane Travel Kit with 3D Sleep Mask, Earplugs, and Luxury Bag, Grey
  • 【Provide Perfect Support】With perfect curves…
  • 【New Design Sweat-Resistant/ Washable…
  • 【New Design Premium Memory Foam】Enjoy our…

Relax and be patient

The vibration of the vehicle and the noise associated with driving can make it hard to fall asleep. Try to be patient and give it time. Focus on your breathing and keep your eyes close while you relax. If you are tired, eventually you will drift off to sleep if you are patient.

Use a sunshade

Having the sun in your eyes can make it difficult to sleep, especially when there are clouds in the sky. On a cloudy day, the sunshine comes and goes. This creates a flashing effect on your eyes while you are trying to relax. Use a sunshade to block the sun out so you can relax.

Alternatively, you can pull over and sit on the opposite side of the car. This car sunshade is an excellent choice for most vehicles.

kinder Fluff Car Window Shade (4Pack)-The Only Certified Car Window Sun Shade for Baby Proven to Block 99.95% UVR – Mom’s Choice Gold Award – Car Seat Sun Protection – Standard
  • The only car window shades CERTIFIED to block…
  • This set contains 2 transparent + 2…
  • Made of 120 GSM,15S Film & a unique clamp, it’s…

Block out the sound

If you are in a noisy car this can be a significant factor in stopping you from falling asleep. If you have some earplugs then your solution is easy. Other options include wrapping clothing around your head and playing some relaxing music or rain sounds. I personally find the sound of rain makes it easier for me to fall asleep.

Wear a sleep mask

A simple sleep mask can block out the glare from the sun as you are on your journey. Flashing light from the sun can wake you up repeatedly and become very irritating! Grab a comfortable sleep mask for your next car journey if you don’t have one already!

Use a neck cushion

As we discussed earlier, supporting your head is absolutely crucial. A supportive neck cushion is a great way to do this. It doesn’t just support your head but it blocks out the distracting vibrations of your vehicle as it’s driving along the road.

Use a blanket

Staying warm is important. Cuddling up with a blanket can make you feel more protected and less exposed. For some people, this helps them to fall asleep while in the car. If you don’t have a blanket, consider raiding your suitcase and using some clothing. A beach towel works great!

Related FAQs

Here are a few FAQs related to sleeping in a moving car. We hope you find them useful!

Why can’t I sleep in a moving car?

Sleeping in a moving car is difficult due to the vibration of the vehicle and the noise generated by the vehicle driving on the road. It is also difficult to relax your mind in what feels like an unsafe environment. The key to falling asleep is to try to relax and be patient. Find a comfortable position that supports your head and use an eye mask.

How do you sleep on a long car ride?

In order to sleep on a long car ride, you should sit upright with your head supported and close your eyes. Set an appropriate cabin temperature and try to relax until you fall asleep. Stretch out your legs and tilt the seat back slightly. Use a neck cushion and face mask to speed up the process.

Is it safe to lie down in a moving car?

It is not safe to lie down in a moving car due to the reduced effectiveness of your seatbelt in the event of a collision. Your seatbelt is designed to restrain you while you are in an upright seated position. Lying down puts you at risk of serious harm in the event of an accident. You can still fall asleep while sitting normally so why take the risk!

Can a passenger sleep in a car while driving?

A passenger can sleep in a moving car as long as they are seated in an upright position with their seatbelt securely fastened. The head should be properly supported and the person driving should be aware of the situation so they can monitor your position. If you are in an accident while asleep you could come to harm due to the inability to brace for the collision

Is it rude to sleep in the car?

It is not rude to sleep in the car when someone is giving you a lift if you communicate clearly that you are very tired. Make sure you show gratitude to the person giving you a ride and politely tell them you are going to try and fall asleep in the car for a short period of time. Ask permission calmly and listen to their response.

Final Thoughts

We hope you found this article useful. We have many other associated articles such as this guide on places to sleep in your car on a road trip. If you are on a long journey and plan to stop overnight, check out this post about which states it is legal to sleep in your car.

Let us know in the comments any tips or tricks you have for sleeping in a moving car, we would love to hear them!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

Iain Salter

Founder & Editor of The Road Trip Expert

Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. He first developed a passion for backpacking in 2014 and has had the pleasure of exploring over 60 countries.