Smart to Sleep When You Commute?

If you've ever commuted by public transportation, you understand the temptation to close your eyes and catch a few winks. Whether you rise before dawn to catch the train to the city or make the last bus home after an evening meeting, chances are you're tired as you travel. But is it a good idea to steal a nap in such an open setting?

The Rudeness Factor

A scan of travel message boards reveals that while simply falling unconscious while on public transit is not in and of itself rude, certain scenarios that occur while a person sleeps can disturb others. "You can't control your actions when you are asleep," says a spokesperson at the Emily Post Institute. "You may lean over on a stranger, making [her] incredibly uncomfortable, or worse, drool on [her]." Even if you have control of your neck muscles and saliva flow, your legs may inadvertently fall open or to one side, crowding the person next to you. Your purse or briefcase can slide off your lap and touch someone else. And you might snore. While you may think it only happens in bed, anyone who commutes regularly by public transit can attest that a person does not have to be lying flat in order to produce sounds that can rattle the windows.

The Safety Factor

The biggest problem with falling asleep in public is that you're vulnerable; gropers and thieves exist everywhere. If you sense that sleep is inevitable, try to tuck your belongings away from prying hands. An oversized coat is ideal for hiding purses and laptops (as well as your body). Try to get a seat near the driver or conductor, who might notice if someone is trying to do something to you.

The Inconvenience Factor

While sleeping on public transit may seem to be an efficient use of time, it only works if you don't miss your stop. Unfortunately, the motions of trains and buses can be so lulling that you sleep more heavily than you intended and wake up miles from where you need to be.

Here's where technology can be a savior. There are several apps available that use a GPS to track where you are and set off an alarm when you're close to your stop.

If you find yourself consistently sleeping on public transportation when you don't want to be, talk to your doctor to find out if there's an underlying medical problem.




E-mail from Matt, spokesperson from Emily Post Institute,

Association for Consumer Research. "Play That One Again: The Effect of Music Tempo on Consumer Behavior in a Restaurant." Web. Vol. 4 (1999); 58-62.