The Car Sleeping Experiment

The medical study I am currently participating in requires me to check in Monday through Thursday morning during study periods.  The study is in St. Louis which is about 3 1/2 hours from where I live.  This means that I need to get a motel room in St. Louis when I have an early morning check in the next day.  Driving from St. Louis to my home and back would cost more in gas than a motel room would.  The cost of a motel is reducing my profit from the study.  I thought a good way to reduce my motel expenses would be to just sleep in my car for one night.

I do have some experience in sleeping in cars.  In my old Toyota I took out the top part of the back seat.  This allowed me to put my legs in the trunk and my torso on the back seat which was a reasonably comfortable sleeping position.  I slept in the car several nights while a friend and I were doing some key swap hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

I figured if I could sleep in my small Corolla I ought to be able to sleep in my larger Camry.  The sleeping in my Camry experiment turned out to be a failure.  I couldn’t get into a comfortable sleeping position in my car.  Just laying on the back seat didn’t give me enough room to stretch out my legs.  Folding down the back seat so I could put my legs in the trunk gave me just enough leg room. The back seat doesn’t fold down all the way flat though leaving my upper torso at an angle that was not conducive to sleep.  If I could have gotten comfortable I think the car sleeping experiment could have worked.  I had a spot where I felt I would be safe and not bothered.  I was able to rig a sheet up from the back window to the front sheets so people couldn’t look in and see me.   I had security and privacy but I just wasn’t able to get comfortable enough to sleep.

I’ll have one more set of Monday-Thursday visits in a couple of weeks.  I have a different, less radical, experiment to save on motel costs that I will try that time.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


4 thoughts on “The Car Sleeping Experiment”

  1. Andy, I’m going to the tennis tournament in Indian Wells, CA this week. I thought about sleeping in my car too.

    I’m a member at 24 hour fitness, so I could go in there to get cleaned up. If I can be comfortable, I’d like to do that and save a few dollars.

  2. Its pretty hard to sleep in most passenger cars, unless you’re one of those blessed souls who can sleep while sitting. With a fold-down rear seat to the trunk, you’d need at least a stretcher-like board to keep the surface flat, and a mattress/pad, much like you’d find on a poolside chaise lounge, and that only works if you don’t rotate much.

    A minivan with 6.5′ of linear floorspace would allow for at least a single futon mattress (or air mattress, if you find those comfortable). Some station wagons will as well – but you must measure.

    Have you tried mooching?

    Look at GlobalFreeLoaders or CouchSurfing.Com, for instance.


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