don't let the water lice bite
January 11, 2012 6:00 PM   Subscribe

do people actually sleep in their bathtub?

This has to win the most useless metafilter question of the week award.(maybe not, i know there are plenty.) Last Saturday on SNL, a couple asked Charles Barkley how to get out of lending their beach house to another couple. he recommended they sleep in their normal bedroom and the guests can sleep in the tub.

i've heard this before, but now that i'm giving it serious attention, it just seems ridiculous. really, the tub? a sleeping bag on the floor anywhere else in the house wouldn't be more comfortable? isn't it wet in there a bit? what happens when someone goes to the bathroom at 2am, or wants to shower in the morning? besides drunks passing out, tell me this is not a reasonable bedding option.
posted by camdan to Home & Garden (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a human-sized spot that's not on the floor, in a room that has a door that can be closed and locked. What's not to like?

Seriously, it's an option. Not my choice, by YMMV.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:02 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are asking if an SNL skit had realistic advice on where people could sleep? Sleeping in the bathtub is a joke about drunk people.

Or! How to sleep in a bathtub because the internet really does have everything.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:03 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've half-tried it when waking up at 3am in a shared hotel room and want the light on to read. It's dry. The slope of the back of the bathtub makes it hard to position a pillow and for some reason, head by the drain doesn't appeal. I imagine if you were drunk or really tired, you could get to sleep, but the floor's preferable.
posted by hoyland at 6:10 PM on January 11, 2012

It's a time-honored tradition when 8 geeks are sharing a hotel room meant for 2 at conventions, but usually, indeed, AFTER the cot and sleeping-bag spaces are taken.
posted by wintersweet at 6:13 PM on January 11, 2012

My take was that "sleeping in the bathtub" was a metaphor for "last resort".

I have a twinge of this tendency, but I know people who really do: they like to sleep in nests. Curled up in a corner with stuff surrounding them as much as possible. I can imagine that with the right blankets and warmth, the bathtub would be comforting. Until you crack your skull open on the faucet.
posted by gjc at 6:15 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bathrooms also tend to be quieter, as they are frequently (though definitely not always) interior rooms with no windows.
(useful when staying in hotels on loud streets)
posted by platypus of the universe at 6:16 PM on January 11, 2012

Oh it's dry and a good place to hide out especially when your roommate (in a hotel) snores like a train unless you punch him every two minutes.

But then again I do sleep (like commenters above say) in a pile of stuff every night.
posted by boobjob at 6:18 PM on January 11, 2012

I would be annoyed that I couldn't stretch out but I would love the "nest" feeling. Maybe I should try it. And my boyfriend (don't tell him I told you) falls asleep in the tub ALL. THE. TIME. so it must be possible to sleep there. He'll sleep there for a few hours if I don't wake him, I usually do because I'm afraid he is going to drown or something.
posted by magnetsphere at 6:32 PM on January 11, 2012

I have done when I'm heavily intoxicated. It's cool and I sleep best cold. It's usually incredibly dark, which helps on those rough mornings. And you have easy access to the toilet for any, ah, intoxication-based emergencies.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2012

I think it depends on the bathtub. Some are very loungy in their ergonomics. Your typical rectangular prism, not so much.
posted by the jam at 6:43 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. Get 2-3 Fat Tires from the fridge. (For some reason they work as the best shower beer, I'm not sure why)
2. Turn on shower to *slightly* hotter than normal.
3. Adjust shower spray to just lower than neck.
4. Lay down in tub.
5. Drink 2-3 Fat Tires.
6. Sleep like a baby.

(Works best when you aren't paying for hot water and using a giant aparment complex water heater that never runs out.)

In conclusion, yes.
posted by JimmyJames at 6:47 PM on January 11, 2012 [14 favorites]

If one were to approach this seriously and as a regular or semi-regular sleeping option, I would suggest building some kind specially-fitted mattress. Perhaps even a folding cover for the tub on which to put the mattress?
posted by smirkette at 6:47 PM on January 11, 2012

I haven't done it myself but have known people to do it and have seen it happen with my own eyes. The prerequisite is extreme drunkenness. Also, can I just say that drinking beer (and, in my case, smoking) in the shower is pretty much one of the best entertainments available?
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:57 PM on January 11, 2012

I have fallen asleep in a bath, but it was full of water and I generally wake up periodically as I sink deeper and my mouth ends up underwater and then eventually cannot fall back asleep when the water gets too cold. It's exceptional for napping.
posted by jeather at 7:04 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tried it once when I was younger and in a hotel room with my mom and dad and sister, and each of them was either snoring or teeth-grinding. It wasn't very comfortable.
posted by Lucinda at 7:10 PM on January 11, 2012

i did all the time as a kid. i also slept in closets, under the bed (i had a pretty tall bed), in nooks under the stairs, in the space between the recliner and the wall. i started doing it around the age of 7, i think, so no beers were involved. i just liked being cramped, held in tiny spaces.
posted by nadawi at 7:14 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

to be clear - i've fallen asleep in a bath before, but i've also purposefully slept in completely dry tubs with pillows and blankets and such.
posted by nadawi at 7:16 PM on January 11, 2012

I have a picture of my mother, wrapped in a blanket and supported by multiple pillows, asleep in a bathtub. The picture was taken in France, by her best friend, with whom she was vacationing. Mom's best friend snored like a chainsaw. And woke up early. And had a wicked sense of humor, because the next picture is of my mother, soaking wet, throwing a pillow at the camera.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:35 PM on January 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

I slept in the tub a lot when I was very pregnant, it was the only place I could get comfortable. It was one of those big old cast iron ones. When the water cooled I'd drain some and add more hot.
posted by mareli at 7:36 PM on January 11, 2012

My grandfather used to tell a story about how he ran away from his father when he was ten because his father was selling his horse. He slept in the neighbor's tub. Maybe it was just some pop-pop humor and he was pulling my leg or something. This would have been about 1927 in Trenton, NJ.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:36 PM on January 11, 2012

I agree this is a historical "thing." For example, in "Norwegian Wood" John "crawled off to sleep in the bath."

I still can't quite picture it. I spent quite a bit of my childhood at sleepovers and we would just sleep on the couch or the floor- it's quite comfortable if you have a sleeping bag or a lot of blankets. Can't imagine wedging my body into a bathtub. I'd be scared I'd wake up and crack my head on the faucet for one thing.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:28 PM on January 11, 2012

all these mentions of cracking your head on the faucet! how do you people take baths? sleeping in a tub is much the same - your feet are under the faucet end.
posted by nadawi at 8:29 PM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

My husband routinely naps in the tub. He gets sore, runs a very hot bath, then falls asleep. He wakes up when the water gets too cold and then takes a shower. We have radiant floors though, so the water takes a while to cool. He's a big guy and his head is always well above the water. He sleeps better propped up anyway, so the angle of the tub is helpful.

I've fallen asleep in the tub a couple of times, both when I was sick. Both times I woke up when the water got cold. I slept really well though.

And to echo nadawi: How on earth do you hit your head on the faucet? I've never seen a tub where the faucet is anywhere near your head. Well, once I saw an ad for some luxury soaking tub where the faucet was this really great waterfall that ran over your shoulders, but I don't think that's what we're talking about.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:37 PM on January 11, 2012

At the risk of derailment, I think we're talking about two different things: Sleeping all night in an empty tub vs. napping while taking an actual bath. I concede that in the first case you would still put your head at the other end, OK.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:44 PM on January 11, 2012

drjimmy - why? i've slept many times in an empty tub and my head always went down at the end where heads go.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 PM on January 11, 2012

I have both fallen asleep in a bath (a fine nap, indeed) and slept in the tub on more than one occasion. My most memorable tub sleep was in a hotel after a wedding. I woke up after about four hours of sleep with a red wine headache and the rising sun flooding the room. My roommates were snoring, and the room was too hot. The bathroom was cool, quiet, and dark. I wrapped myself up in the duvet, threw a couple of pillows in the tub, and slept l like a baby. Had a bit of a stiff neck and joints later, but it was totally worth it for a few hours of deep sleep under difficult circumstances.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:14 PM on January 11, 2012

My younger brother once caused my parents to completely lose their shit when, one warm summer night, he left his bedroom and slept in the bathtub. And boy, did he sleep well -- he never heard the absolute panic he caused when my folks looked into his room to check on him and found it empty. It was funny once we found him in that tub, but until then...not so much. We still give him shit for this 30 years later.
posted by mosk at 9:23 PM on January 11, 2012

I have fallen asleep standing up (leaning against the wall) in a shower, so sleeping in a tub sounds very reasonable.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:44 PM on January 11, 2012

Once, when I was in university, four friends and I shared the world's tiniest motel room in Montreal. Three of us shared the bed. One slept on the luggage rack (she was short) and the fifth person took the bathtub. She wasn't all that short, but she said it was better than sleeping on the floor of the bathroom or cross wise at the end of the bed, the only other options.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:52 PM on January 11, 2012

ok, the consensus seems to be, this is a historical "thing", encountered when you like nesting, are in a hotel room with snoring people, are looking for someplace cool and/or quiet to sleep, and maybe some privacy, are drunk, or are a runaway; maybe being a kid or a little smaller helps. there also seem to be quite a lot of you who like to nap while bathing or who crack their heads on the faucets, lol. these are great stories, keep them coming!
posted by camdan at 9:58 PM on January 11, 2012

of course there's the "last resort" component, and maybe a bit of an injoke, as well. in the norwegian wood song it seems to mean you're not welcome in the bed, off to the tub you go, night night
posted by camdan at 10:07 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

an old boyfriend of mine would sleep in the shower when he was really drunk because our tiny apartment had no tub. It was funny to see him curled up in a little spiral around the drain. He liked it because it was cool and if he yaked the drain and the water was right there.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:25 PM on January 11, 2012

I did this as a kid a bunch of times under several scenarios:

-When I had a bad fever and the porcelain felt really good, and I was also close to the toilet for puking.

-When it was over 90 degrees in my house in the middle of the night and I couldn't sleep, again the coldness.

-When I was in a spate of bedwetting, was out of ideas and figured that would be easiest to clean in the morning.
posted by cairdeas at 11:41 PM on January 11, 2012

Well, I've never slept in a tub, but a few years ago I left my then-new boyfriend to go to a ten-day conference. One night, I camped out in the tub with a couple pillows so we could skype really late without disturbing my hotel roommate. I remember it being not so bad and actually dozing off a little bit.

Also, there's Norwegian Wood in which John Lennon sings about a woman who has him over but won't sleep with him. Rather than the floor, he "crawls off to sleep in the bath". (But he also then sets her house on fire in the morning, I think, so maybe it was an awful experience for him.)
posted by sundaydriver at 2:13 AM on January 12, 2012

I was at a party once, where one drunk attendee was sleeping in the tub during the party with the curtain closed. When someone would come in to use the facilities, he would wake up, have a bit of chat with them while they were doing their business, then nod back off.

I think he gave a powerful fright to more than one guest when he would first speak up.
posted by chiefthe at 2:19 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

re: norwegian wood:
at the risk of being overly pedantic or missing an obvious joke... that's really not the plot of that song at all.
posted by Acari at 8:47 AM on January 12, 2012


> re: norwegian wood:
at the risk of being overly pedantic or missing an obvious joke... that's really not the plot of that song
at all.

Actually...according to Paul (via wikipedia) that pretty much is the plot of the song.

posted by mosk at 8:59 AM on January 12, 2012

I first heard of the practice when I saw this episode of Leave It To Bever (Wally's hiding Lumpy, and the only place he can sleep is their upstairs bedroom) but I can only imagine doing this successfully in one of those nice long European tubs, upon an extra-narrow (but thick!) futon. But I'm a tall guy, who has trouble getting to sleep.
posted by Rash at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2012

Inner-city anecdote / possible urban legend: parents or grandparents make kids sleep in the bathtub to protect them from gunfire. I have no idea if it's true.
posted by bad grammar at 4:37 PM on January 12, 2012

maybe Lumpy is sleeping in the tub to get used to life at sea?
posted by camdan at 8:21 PM on January 12, 2012

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