How to Sleep Better on a Bus

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Whether you’re traveling across the state or the country, busses are often the most cost-efficient mode of travel. While they won't break the bank, most bus lines aren’t known for cushy comfort. That can certainly make dozing off a challenge. But fear not, weary traveler, because if you steal these tricks, you’ll be snoozing before you even hit the highway.

Master Sleeping Upright.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an empty seat next to you, which might allow you to lie down, you’ll have to sleep in a seated position. In order to fall into deep REM sleep, your muscles need to be relaxed. A neck pillow can come in handy, because it provides a soft cushion, supports your head, and helps you unwind. (It also helps prevent you from falling into—or accidentally drooling on—the stranger who is sitting next to you while you hit the hay!) Better yet, get to the bus stop early so you can get a window seat, and lean against the window for a more comfortable snooze. And don’t forget to recline your seat, if possible. (Remember: The seats in the last row of the bus usually don’t recline.)

Pack Wisely.

Unlike in your car, you can’t change the temperature of the bus, and if it’s uncomfortably hot or chilly, those extremes may make it harder to sleep. So wear layers. Start with a tank top or short-sleeve shirt as your base, and then put a long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt over it. Then pack a small blanket or pashmina in case you need extra warmth. It’s also wise to throw an eye mask and ear plugs in your bag (why limit them to airplane trips?) Blocking out light (whether from the windows or an overhead bulb), as well as the sound of a neighbor’s snoring or phone conversation increase your chances of nodding off.

Choose Timing Carefully.

Busses that leave early in the morning or late at night tend to be the least crowded. Booking travel during one of these times can raise the odds that you’ll have the whole row to yourself, which might allow you to spread out more while you sleep. And traveling overnight gives you an advantage, as you’ll naturally be feeling your sleepiest, thanks to your internal body clock. Bonus: The traffic should be lighter, allowing you to get to your destination (and an actual bed!) faster.