This article details 13 pieces of advice to make sleeping on a bus easy and stress-free. I’ve taken a number of journeys in the past so I’ve compiled this list of overnight bus tips from my experience on the road.
I have outlined a number of different sleeping positions for you to try and several ways to help you relax before falling asleep. There are also some quick examples of things to do on a bus to stay entertained in the hours leading up to your rest.
We’ll discuss how to sleep comfortably on an overnight bus and stay safe during the journey. Keeping valuables safe during the night is as important as making sure you’re warm and calm.
Learning some tips to sleep on a bus is a great way to ensure you feel refreshed and energized when you arrive at your destination. Let’s get started!
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Avoid large unhealthy meals before the journey
Try to avoid eating large amounts of food late at night as this can make it more difficult to sleep on a bus. Unhealthy snacks and late-night eating can make you feel bloated and spike your alertness when your body should be getting prepared to fall asleep.
Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine late in the day
Drink plenty of water to avoid muscle aches which can make it really difficult to relax. Try not to drink caffeine in the evening as this will make falling asleep much more difficult. If you love drinking coffee then consider a decaf option when visiting a rest stop.
Get some exercise at a rest stop before trying to sleep
Stretching at a rest stop and getting some exercise can help your body prepare for sleep. Keep it light but get the blood flowing. This can prevent muscle pains and help you relax when you board the bus and sit in a comfortable sleeping position. This is just one of a number of points discussed in our article on the best long bus ride tips.
Sit in the middle of the bus for a smooth ride
Where you sit on a bus can have a big impact on how easy it is to sleep comfortably. The back of the bus is notorious for being uncomfortable due to you feeling the bumps in the road more prominently. The front of the bus will expose you to the headlights of oncoming traffic. Choose a seat in the middle of the bus to sleep comfortably on a charter bus.
Listen to an audiobook or podcast to relax
As we discussed above, looking at a smartphone screen can prevent you from feeling sleepy. If you are feeling bored then consider listening to an audiobook or podcast instead of looking at the screen. You could also listen to some relaxing music. Use this link for a Free trial on audible to stay entertained.
Avoid bright lights and digital device screens
Digital devices and bright lights prevent the release of melatonin which is a key hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Try putting down your smartphone and reading a book or relaxing with your eyes closed. Consider wearing a set of blue light glasses after 7 pm to help block out the light which prevents you from feeling sleepy. These are essential if you insist on using a digital device in the evening.
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Keep your valuables safe and secure
Feeling relaxed is one of the most important things whilst sleeping on a bus. Make sure you keep your valuables safe and on your person. Ensure they are out of site and not easily accessible. Not only will this protect your possessions but it will help you relax as you won’t be worrying about them whilst you are falling asleep.
Find a comfortable position to get to sleep
The typical position for sleeping on a bus is to sit facing forward and begin by reclining the seat if possible. Use a pillow or item of clothing to support your head as you lean it back or to one side. Try not to slouch and be patient as it takes time to relax. Alternatively, you can try the knees-up position which involves slouching and pushing your knees against the seat in front for support.
If you are sitting next to a window you could try to rest your head on it, using a pillow to prevent the bus vibrations from disturbing you. If you are fortunate enough to have a double seat you could try curling up in a sideways position.
Use a travel pillow and eye mask
One of the most challenging aspects of sleeping on a bus is getting comfortable. An easy-to-use travel pillow can help you support your head and relax. An affordable eye mask is also a useful accessory to block out the light that might be coming from others using a reading light. If you are already on the bus, consider using an item of clothing as a pillow.
Keep it quiet with a good set of earplugs
Most passengers are considerate on night buses so you should find there isn’t too much noise within the cabin. The main concern is the noise coming from the bus going over loud sections of the road. A good set of travel earplugs can block out the sound and help you relax.
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Try to get a double seat if possible
Getting a double seat can make or break an overnight bus trip. Having the extra space to spread out and relax can make falling asleep much easier. You have more flexibility in your sleeping position and it’s nice to not have another passenger next to you.
Pack warm clothing and a blanket
There is nothing worse than trying to sleep when you are cold. Some overnight buses put the air conditioning on to prevent unpleasant smells and keep the passenger area cool. It’s important to pack warm clothes including multiple layers. This means you can adjust your clothing so that you are warm enough to feel calm and relaxed whilst going to sleep. Taking a travel blanket can make you feel really safe too.
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Consider a first-class seat or a sleeper bus
If you are taking an overnight bus then consider checking whether it is a sleeper bus or a normal coach. Sleeper buses allow full reclining seats that make it much easier to get a good night’s rest. If you have the option I would always go for the sleeper bus, even if it is quite a bit more expensive. I took an overnight bus from Las Vegas to New Orleans and the lack of sleep really affected my enjoyment of the following day.
If you have a really long journey ahead, feel free to check out our top tips on how to entertain yourself on a long bus ride. We also have a nice article outlining 20 games to play on a bus which is a useful way to pass the time.
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