How to sleep on a bus (when traveling long distances)

Published on:
February 13, 2023

Have you tried to get some shut-eye on a long bus trip, only to end up wide awake for hours? It’s easy to understand how important sleep is during travel, but it can be so difficult to achieve it. The noisy environment, the continuous bumps in the road, and the upright seating position all contribute to our inability to doze off on a bus.

But not to worry, because in this blog post, we will discuss some tools and techniques for getting sleep while traveling on a long bus trip, so you can feel refreshed once you get to your destination.

Preparing for your bus journey

If you properly prepare for your trip, you've already done half the work to set yourself up for success.

The following steps will set you up to get more restful sleep on a bus:

Choosing the Right Seat

When choosing the right seat, there is a lot to consider:

  1. Window vs Aisle Seat: Window seats offer unparalleled views of the passing scenery, but they have limited legroom and can make getting up for restroom or food breaks more difficult. Aisle seats provide more space, but lack the view of a window seat. Decide which factor is more important to you on your trip, and choose accordingly. However, one great thing about the window seat is that you can lean your head against the window for another sleeping position option.
  2. Reclining Seats: If you’re traveling longer distances, look for buses with reclining seats that can help you get some shut-eye and arrive feeling refreshed.

Packing the Right Gear

Having all your must-have items ready to go will ensure your journey is as comfortable as possible:

  1. Neck Pillow: Neck pillows are essential when trying to catch some Z's. They help keep your head in one spot while you sleep, instead of lolling around like a bobble-head doll.
  2. Eye Mask: Eye masks block unwanted light so that darkness envelops you and helps you drift off into a peaceful slumber faster than ever before!
  3. Earplugs or Noise-Canceling Headphones: Earplugs will come in handy if your fellow passengers are unexpectedly loud during the ride, while noise-cancelling headphones are great for blocking out the rumble of traffic and other background noises so that nothing interrupts your snooze session.

Staying Hydrated and Fed

It’s important to stay hydrated during long journeys, as dehydration can cause headaches, drowsiness, and fatigue – not ideal when trying to sleep. Bring plenty of water with you, or take advantage of stops along the way to rehydrate yourself regularly throughout your journey. Eating healthy snacks, such as nuts or fruit, will also help ensure that hunger pangs don’t interfere with your sleep schedule too much.

Techniques for Sleeping on a Bus

Sometimes even having the tools like the ones we've listed above isn't enough to get proper sleep while on a bus, and that's when knowing the following techniques can be helpful:

Finding a Comfortable Position

One of the most important steps when trying to sleep on a bus is finding a comfortable position.

Using a Neck Pillow

A neck pillow is essential for helping you find comfort and support in an awkward seat. It will help prop up your head, so you don’t cause any strain to your neck or shoulders. If you don't have one, try using your jacket as makeshift cushion instead.

Reclining the Seat

If there is an option to recline the seat back, take advantage of it! This will give you more space to move around and get comfortable without disturbing other passengers on board. Just make sure not to recline too far back, so that you don’t irritate others sitting behind you.

Blocking Out Noise and Light

Noise and light are two big distractions when trying to sleep while traveling. Taking steps to reduce these distractions can help improve chances of getting some shut eye:

Using Earplugs and Eye Masks

Earplugs (like before) and eye masks can block noise from fellow passengers, plus unwanted light that might enter from outside the window or other sources within the bus. Keep them handy if you need them during your journey!

Closing The Window Blinds

Closing the window blinds can also help reduce brightness from outside sources, such as street lamps at night or glaring sunlight during midday rest stops. If needed, ask a helpful co-passenger for assistance if you're having trouble closing them yourself.

Relaxation Techniques

When sleeping on a bus, it's important to relax physically and mentally to drift off into slumber land:

Deep Breathing

Take deep breaths slowly through your nose until all worries begin to fade away into nothingness, allowing your body and brain to relax further with each exhale.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Tense all major muscles around your body first, then slowly release all tension until they become completely limp – starting from toes, working up through feet, legs, back and arms, before finally reaching the neck area lastly. Focus all attention on this methodical exercise until feeling completely relaxed throughout every muscle group in turn.


Visualization can also prove effective for calming nerves beforehand – picture yourself already arriving at your destination after having achieved complete relaxation aboard the ride in question; let this positive imagery be something that will carry over into real life scenarios afterwards.

Tips for a Better Bus Sleeping Experience

With long bus rides inevitable in many aspects of life, mastering the art of sleeping on buses is important. Follow these tips to make your bus sleeping experience more enjoyable and restful.

Avoiding Caffeine and Alcohol: Though tempting during long trips, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed can help you reach deeper sleep more quickly when the time comes. Caffeine alters your sleep cycles, leaving you feeling wired but exhausted the next morning. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep cycle, so to ensure quality rest, it’s best to avoid both of these substances while traveling by bus.

Taking Breaks to Stretch & Move Around: Sitting in one position for hours at a time can be uncomfortable and give you body pains that will only worsen as the journey continues. Whenever possible, take 5-10 minute breaks at stops along your route to get up and move around. This will reduce stiffness in your joints, keep blood flowing smoothly throughout the body, and provide a much needed mental break too!

Wearing Comfortable Clothing: When sleeping on a long bus ride, comfort should always come first – choose clothes that are loose fitting, yet still warm enough for changes in temperature during travel (e.g., an oversized sweater or light jacket). This will prevent any chafing or irritation caused by tight clothing, and keep you cozy even during those cold night drives.

Trying to Stick To A Sleep Schedule: For most people, consistency is key to getting quality sleep. No matter how tempting napping may seem during odd times of day, try sticking as close as possible to your usual bedtime schedule. This will help minimize disruptions in your circadian rhythm, which can lead to fatigue during the day after waking up from an erratic sleep pattern on the bus.


Traveling by bus for the long trips can be exhausting, but with the right preparation and knowledge of how to make it more pleasant, you can get some much-needed rest during your journey.

By following the tips we’ve outlined in this article – such as wearing comfortable clothing, avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, taking breaks to stretch and move around throughout your trip, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule – you should find that sleeping on a long bus ride is less daunting than expected.

Remember: getting quality sleep while traveling is important for both physical health and mental wellbeing. So take care of yourself on your next road trip.

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