Big sleep on a long train running
March 20, 2017 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking a roughly 28-hour train ride in a couple of weeks, and I'd like to sleep for as much of it as possible. Any suggestions for eliciting a deeper and/or longer-lasting-than-normal slumber?
posted by DrAstroZoom to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Just to get he obvious of the way: get a room or a "roomette" where you can lay down flat, if you aren't already.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:48 AM on March 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

You could stay up as long as possible prior to the train ride, say 30+ hours.
I do not recommend drinking alcohol, as that often leads to very disruptive sleep.
Drink plenty of water the day before so that you are hydrated but enough time has passed that you aren't waking to go to the bathroom.
There are all kinds of medications for this, most good ones are prescription.
Melatonin does nothing for me but drinking pure potato starch (not flour) mixed in water (4 Tbs in 1 cup of water) before bed induces serotonin production from the gut microbiome, which can help with deep sleep. Try Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch (easy to find any nice grocery store). You may need to do this for at least a week prior to departure to get your micriobiome optimized.
posted by waving at 7:53 AM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ear plugs
battery powered white noise generator (there are phone apps as well...)
comfortable eye mask
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:56 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Make sure you are nowhere near the bathrooms, because the doors opening and closing all night/day are really loud.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:58 AM on March 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

L-Glutamine! 5 HTP! Magnesium! Melatonin!

Advil PM?
posted by jbenben at 8:07 AM on March 20, 2017

posted by scratch at 8:14 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dramamine or zzquill work fairly well for me. Maybe stock up on some of the podcasts specifically made to put you to sleep (like sleep with me)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:14 AM on March 20, 2017

When I took an overnight Chinatown bus, I did the following:

-Packed a blanket, an eye mask, and a neck pillow, and used my puffy jacket as a pillow because it was winter (a real pillow would be better). The blanket is surprisingly crucial, not for warmth but just for triggering that 'sleep time' vibe.
-Wore my earbuds but didn't play anything (earplugs would have been better, or white noise).
-Drank warm milk with ginger from the Chinese tea place by the bus stop (this may have been placebo effect).
-Made sure I got a seat by the window so that I could lean against it.
-Took a couple Zzzquil pills.

That kept me asleep for most of the 10-hour journey, and a Chinatown bus is way less comfy than a train.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:15 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are you at risk for blood-clots? Sleeping in a cramped position without moving for many, many hours can be really dangerous, particularly if you've taken something to make you sleep. (Someone in my extended social circle died after an international flight.)

I strongly suggest that you get a luxury seat or a sleeper so that you can move around naturally in your sleep, stay hydrated and plan to stand up periodically, no matter how disappointing this is in terms of the travel experience. This is particularly true if you have any health conditions pre-disposing you to blood clots or if you are taking birth control pills. Note that long-distance athletes actually have a slightly greater risk of blood clots because of their low heart rate and blood pressure - it's not just an "am I in good health overall" thing.
posted by Frowner at 8:26 AM on March 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

A backpacker sleeping pad, neck pillow, fleece throw .
posted by hortense at 9:20 AM on March 20, 2017

Melatonin, SleepPhones, and a white noise app on your phone (I like Calm).
posted by radioamy at 9:37 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

If there's any way to book a spot in a sleeper car, it's worth every penny.
posted by quince at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you can afford it, a roomette is so damned quiet and chill. You can put the overhead bed down and keep your seats below normal and get in and out of the bed without opening your privacy door. Also, you can turn the speaker off in your space. The constant announcements on the train is what you will need to fight. Figure out some comfortable way to block them out, headphones, earplugs, etc. And, if you manage to get that roomette, make sure to tell the steward you plan on sleeping through certain meals because, otherwise, they will come knocking.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:50 AM on March 20, 2017

Likewise, you don't want to be over the wheels.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:17 PM on March 20, 2017

Don't put too much pressure on yourself to sleep constantly. Podcasts and audiobooks that you have already heard/read but want to listen to again are my tip for managing a lot of sleep over an extended time. When you wake up, start listening​ to something and let yourself enjoy being awake and lazy. I find I'm much more likely to nod off again that way. I just put my phone next to me on a quiet setting if I'm alone, but there are flat headphones (and even speaker pillows) that will help if that's not an option.

Seconding getting a bed and taking some sleeping medication, too.
posted by howfar at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recommend taxi/uber if you don't have a ride. If you are lacking sleep then you don't want to be downtown any longer than you have to be.
posted by notned at 2:32 PM on March 20, 2017

Seconding Benadryl
I'm a fussy sleeper and Benadryl gives me such a deep, albeit weird, sleep.
posted by elke_wood at 3:13 PM on March 20, 2017

Trying to fall asleep in a position so that my mouth won't fall open helps me stay asleep longer. When I fall asleep sitting straight up, my mouth falls open, and dry mouth wakes me up. The closer to horizontal you can get, the better.

Also, drugs. Dramamine, Benadryl, or Ambien if you have ever had it prescribed - but don't take Ambien for the first time on the train. It can do weird things to you.
posted by raspberrE at 7:49 PM on March 20, 2017

Magnesium supplements do it for me.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:31 PM on March 20, 2017

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