Getting a restful night of sleep

If you do nothing else to prepare your vehicle, the one thing you need to do is equip it for sleeping. After all, that’s the whole point. Here we will discuss some possibilities for you to evaluate and apply to your situation.

Traditional mattress

The standard approach to bedding is to lay down a twin-sized mattress. This works. It’s easy, comfortable, and provides a good deal of insulation from below. On the other hand, traditional mattresses are bulky and don’t offer a lot of flexibility. When space is at a premium, you will want to look for something smaller and possibly multi-purpose.

Memory foam

Another approach is to use 6 to 12-inch memory foam that has been cut to fit on top of a structure that serves as storage space as well as the base of a bed. The foam can be cut to a custom size to fit your specific needs. Many people who use memory foam swear that it’s the most comfortable option, and it is also very effective insulation for retaining body heat.

Unfortunately, thick memory foam mattresses tend to be very expensive. A compromise would be to put a thinner memory foam mattress pad on top of a less expensive mattress using other materials.

Reclaimed cushion foam

A more affordable source of foam is to use the cushions from an old couch or recliner. This is rarely memory foam and won’t have the same structural support, but it’s still more comfortable than a solid floor. You can lay out several cushions as needed, or you can pull the foam out and use it to construct something more elaborate.


In larger vehicles, you might consider hanging a hammock diagonally across the living space. This can be low-cost and extremely space-efficient, as you can roll up the hammock and pack it away when it’s not in use, freeing up space for other use while you’re not sleeping.

A hammock brings you nearer the top of the vehicle, where heat collects in cold weather. Heat also rises in hot weather, but the difference is not as significant unless you’re running an air conditioner without a fan to circulate the air. In extreme cold, putting a few layers of blankets in the bottom of the hammock will improve heat retention.

Other considerations

If you are traveling a long distance and plan to spend your days driving, consider this option: Spend your nights driving, and sleep during the day! It is much, much easier to find a safe place to park for 8-10 hours during the day. But if you’re a light sleeper, the major downside of this approach is dealing with bright light and the constant noise. Day sleeping can also be problematic in hot weather because you’ll want to open up the windows, which is a security issue while you’re sleeping. Still, it is an option that is often overlooked.