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June 08, 2018

How to relax and sleep on your commute home

Commute Relaxation
Stock_Carroll - Market-Frankford Line Subway Trains Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A train on the Market-Frankford Line in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

There are three kinds of people: The kind who can fall asleep the moment they step on the train, (plane or automobile) the kind that couldn't sleep if they tried, and the in-betweeners, who don’t normally fall asleep, but with the right amount of sleep deprivation, is out like a light. Some people may look at the sleepers on the train like they're crazy, and wonder, with mild jealousy, how do they even do that? 

If you don’t know how to sleep on public transportation, here are some helpful tips to make your commute home a little more enjoyable.


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  • Spritz yourself or use an essential oil – Look for oils and sprays that mention “grounding” or “sleep” in the title. Dabbing an essential oil on your wrists and neck may help you relax. Be mindful though, and refrain from spraying on others as it can irritate the people around you. 

  • Listen to a long, drawn-out podcast or audio book – If you have trouble falling asleep in general, boring or drawn-out podcasts or audio books with a calm tone can easily help you doze off without being intrusive. Just remember to keep it low enough that you can still hear any public service announcements.

  • Try yoga – This is especially true if you have a long commute home. A little yoga at the end of the day never hurt anyone. Just remember to know your limits. The key is to stretch, not impress your imaginary yoga instructor. Try some standing poses, such as mountain pose, forward fold, side stretch pose, and low lunge. You may become “that” person in the station, but at least you won’t have “that” back that makes you feel old and keeps you up all night.

  • Make a pillow with your jacket  – This works especially well in the fall and spring when it’s just cold enough to wear a jacket, but too warm by the afternoon to want anything to do with it. Summer? Just try to use your arm, if possible.

  • Arrange your items so you can feel them all in reach – Nothing will make you paranoid and awake more than not feeling totally in control of your belongings. Set them in your lap or put them to the side, with your arm around them.

  • Standing? Try to place your back completely against some kind of wall. Falling asleep would not be the best idea as it hinders your ability to keep balance, but you should be able to close your eyes and focus on your breathing with a meditation, podcast or app.