How to Make Sleeping in Your Car Comfortable


Sleeping in a truck or car can be a lot of fun during a short camping trip, but if you have any kind of back problems then it can quickly become a pain. You’ll find yourself wanting to do anything to make the night more comfortable. Luckily there are ways to make cars more comfortable for sleeping, and these are mainly little tweaks or adjustments that can be implemented easily.

You can try the following steps to make your next overnight stay in the car more restful.

1) Make It Dark

Wherever you’re trying to sleep, there’s a good chance that it won’t quite be dark enough. If you’re sleeping in any car, you’ll want to plan ahead and find some way to cover the windows before you go to sleep.

If you’re trying to sleep in a truck, then camping shells are your friends, I promise. This can take the form of an actual shell, or it could be a rooftop tent. If you don’t need much space, you could even use a bed cap. Regardless of your choice, you’ll definitely want some kind of a roof over your head for safety and for light regulation.

These covers will go a long way toward helping you feel like you can sleep comfortably in your car. You could also hang blankets or reflective screens over the windows to darken the interior.

2) Get a Sleeping Pad

Whether you pick up an air mattress or a foam sleeping pad, getting something to put under your body that isn’t the hard surface of your car floor will make your life so much easier. Whatever kind of mattress or sleeping pad you end up choosing will be better than metal, so pick whatever will work in your budget.

Another thing that a mattress can help with is conserving warmth in your body, especially if you’re in a truck. The metal of the truck bed will just take your body heat and give you nothing in return, while a mattress will allow you to conserve heat between it and your blankets or sleeping bag.

You can even get a mattress that goes over the back seats of your car, which is great if you need to sleep in a smaller vehicle that doesn’t have space for you to lie down elsewhere.

3) Temperature Regulation

This is useful for anyone trying to sleep in their pickup. While blankets and sleeping bags are great for keeping you warm at night, there isn’t really much that they can do to help you cool down, and if it gets cold enough you’ll definitely want to have some kind of a heat source back there.

Picking up a couple of fans and a small heater (as long as they won’t be a fire hazard) can make your sleep experience a million times better. That might mean that you need to bring a battery with you on your camping trips to power your fan. Trust me, it’s worth it.

While ventilation is important, it’s also important not to leave your windows down too far if your in a van or a car, as that puts you at risk of having people try to break into your car while you’re sleeping in it.

4) Bed Platforms

Building a couple of bed platforms will let you fit more than one person in the truck bed without people accidentally ending up too close to each other. It’s a great way to create some boundaries, and more importantly, it can create ample space for storage.

You may not think that storage is important for comfort when sleeping, but knowing that your stuff is going to be exactly where you put it last night always makes me feel a lot better before bed.

Plus, it feels a lot more like sleeping at home when you’re a little ways above the ground, which can really help you relax if you struggle with that kind of thing. Bed platforms will only really work in pickups, vans, and some SUVs so keep that in mind while making your plans.

5) Find a Safe Place to Park

While you could technically park anywhere, there are some parking options that are better than others. For instance, it’s generally a bad idea to park your truck on the side of the road to sleep, as anyone could see you as they were passing and that could be a problem.

Truck stops, rest stops, campsites, or national forests, are all relatively safe places where you will almost always be allowed to stay the whole night. This is important to your comfort, and if someone comes to tow your truck while you’re trying to sleep in it I wouldn’t imagine you’d be having the best sleep experience.

6) Keep Your Sleeping Time Sacred

This is a good general tip for sleeping more comfortably, but it’s especially useful if you’re doing something like camping where getting enough rest is critically important and it’s easy to feel like you’re justified in staying up late.

What this means is that when it’s time to sleep you put away all the bright screens and other lights so that you can focus on relaxing and falling asleep. Looking at screens always makes it harder to fall asleep, which can be a real killer when you’re already a little uncomfortable.

It also means that once it’s time for you to go to bed, you don’t talk to anyone you’re with until the next morning unless there’s an emergency. Now is the time for sleeping, and nothing else.

7) Make Sure Your Car is Completely Turned Off

Psychologically, knowing that your car battery will still be working tomorrow morning is a great way to make sure that your brain will allow you to fall asleep. Make sure that all the truck’s lights are off, that the radio is off, that the engine isn’t running and that there isn’t anything else that could be draining your power.

Speaking of which, make sure that anything else that might stress you out over the course of the night is also taken care of. This is another step that will allow you to sleep much better.

8) Sleep in Your Car More Often

Once your car is configured in a way that makes it comfortable for you the best way to make the space more comfortable is to sleep in it more often.

When you’ve only slept somewhere a couple of times, it’s significantly harder to fall asleep there. Your brain needs the experience to take in the space and to register that it’s completely safe before it will let you fall asleep easily. For some people, this can take a few hours, but for others, it can take several nights.

Giving your brain time to register the fact that the back of your truck is a place where it’s safe to sleep will go a long way towards making your feel more comfortable sleeping back there on trips.

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

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