Ask SleepBetter: Drive Time Sleepiness

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer? Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter. You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form. We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues. Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is from a woman who can’t help but sleep in the car:

“I have difficulty falling and then having good uninterrupted sleep. However, when I am in a moving vehicle as a driver or a passenger I instantly become tired and If I am a passenger I allow myself to fall asleep. What could this be from? I would love to have a good night sleep soon.”

-Dana (via email)

There are a few things to address here.  The first is your inability to get a good night’s sleep.  We always recommend that before you do anything else, visit your family doctor to rule out any physical cause for your sleeplessness.

Regarding your “drive time sleepiness,” it’s troubling to us that you say you have a tendency to want to fall asleep happens whle you’re driving.  If that’s the case, you should avoid taking longer car rides by yourself, and be willing to share the driving.

Finally, falling asleep in the car while you’re a passenger is a relatively harmless and not uncommon issue.  The humming of the car and the inactivity do tend to make a lot of people sleepy.  There’s a reason many parents take their children for car rides at naptime as a last resort.  If you’re worried about seeming rude, make a joke out of it or simply keep a conversation going so you don’t nod off.

If the humming of the car helps relax you, perhaps you should try a white noise machine in your bedroom?  Assuming you don’t have a physical issue that’s keeping you from sleeping, this might help take what you perceive as a “problem” and use it to help you at night.  Sound machines can be set to play any number of repetitive noises while you sleep, including ones that might approximate the humming of the highway.

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