How to Sleep in Your Subaru Impreza

A step by step guide to ensure a sleepless night and sore back the next morning.

Conversion vans, trucks, and cars are seemingly all the rage right now. Being able to adventure and explore, while taking your temporary sleeping quarters with you where ever you go, what could be more convenient? Forget having to set up a tent. Just spend the day doing what you love, then open the door, sprawl out, and fall asleep. It’s awesome to see what sorts of vehicles people have altered to create their own home away from home.

I’m here to tell you: a Subaru Impreza isn’t one of them.

I absolutely love my car. It’s the runt of the Subaru lineup, the small bug mighty “starter Subaru”, as I like to call it. It’s absolutely perfect for all of our needs – except, as it turns out – sleeping. But, in case you too find yourself needing to sleep in your Subaru Impreza, follow these helpful tips to ensure you don’t get any sleep at all. Ahem:

Step One: Set up Your Tent

Arrive to your beautiful campsite, and delight in the fact that you are one of the few sites with a raised tent platform. The weather forecast is predicting a tropical depression, and though you aren’t quite sure how that differentiates from a tropical storm (Ed Piatrowski, you need a hotline), you’re pretty sure it means it’s going to rain.

A lot.

Set up your tent confident that this raised feature will keep your sleeping area safe from potential flooding.

Step Two: Refuse Other Accommodations

When your local friend, who has also seen the weather forecast, and knows you are planning on sleeping in a tent, kindly offers up space in their home for you sleep safely indoors…refuse. Politely turn down the comfortable bed, promised pizza, and cold beer. Kindly respond “we’ll be fine, we are experienced campers!” when they offer up an entire wing of the house for you and your husband, complete with a hot tub.

Basically, be a stubborn asshole.

Step Three: Naively Ignore the Rain

When the monsoon begins, laugh in it’s face from the warm comfort of your friends super fancy batwing awning with side panels, complete with a smoke-free propane fueled fire pit. Delight in the fact that while everyone else is holed up in their RV’s, you are still outside, enjoying the fresh air.

Step Four: Realize Your Fate

Excuse yourself from the party and head to your tent to grab an extra pair of sweatpants. Or maybe it was gloves. It really doesn’t matter, and you’ll forget soon enough anyway. Because as you approach your tent, you realize that lovely aforementioned platform is now a swimming pool, and your tent is two inches deep in it.

Unzip your tent, praying that it somehow miraculously became completely impermeable to the flood. Discover instead that your massive canvas and flannel double sleeping bag is completely soaked, and likely weighs about 300 pounds, as it acts like a queen sized sponge soaking up as much water as possible. Oh, and all of the clothes you left sitting on top of the sleeping bag are also drenched.

Step Five: #@&*%

Let it all out. Mother Nature doesn’t care if you blame her, so take it out on everyone else instead. You’re exhausted from running a mountain race that morning, and now you have nowhere to sleep. Not much in life makes you more miserable than being cold AND wet. Just ask your family, high school soccer team, and every friend or ex boyfriend who has had the unfortunate pleasure of spending time in the cold, wet, outdoors with you. Realize it’s too late to call the friend who offered up a warm bed. You’re f*cked.

Step Six: Make Peace with the Car

Well, at least you still have a dry car to sleep in. What’s that? The back seat doesn’t fold down flat and line up evenly with the trunk space? Well that’s a bummer. To the front of the car we go.

Your husband decides to take the back seat, which makes no sense but you don’t realize that at the time, and you opt for the drivers seat. Put on ALL OF THE LAYERS, because cars are surprisingly not well insulated, and it’s cold. Don’t forget to crack the windows, as your friend reminds that carbon monoxide poisoning kills!

Step Seven: Sleep?

Toss, turn, toss, and turn. Realize you’ll never get comfortable with the steering wheel inches from your legs, and opt to move to the passengers seat. This requires not only shifting all of your stuff, but that of your husband in the back seat, so you can lay your seat back just a little and not smash his head.

Toss, turn, toss, and turn. Listen to the tropical depression smash acorns and other debris off of the roof of your car. For the first time in your life, truly contemplate how wildly uncomfortable it is to try and sleep sitting in a mostly upright position. How on earth do people do this regularly? You know, like how your Dad could immediately fall asleep in his recliner chair after Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it was the tryptophan. Maybe it was the booze.

I could go for a drink.

Toss, turn, toss, and turn. Listen to husband snore. Try to lay across the front seat, and wonder if the feeling of the seat belts and emergency brake jabbing into your rib cage will go away after a few minutes. Sit back up. When you hear an interruption in your husbands snore pattern, ask if he’s awake (knowing it will wake him up) and suggest he try sleeping in the drivers seat so you can lay your seat back as far as it will go.

He obliges. Shift everything again. Once your seat is fully reclined, marvel at how much more comfortable this is…temporarily. Then go back to not sleeping.

Step Eight: Bathroom Break!

Realize Nature is calling. Also realize the tropical depression is still surging. Try to dig out your galoshes from the backseat, without hitting your husband in the head with them as you swing them over to the front seat. Do the same with your rain jacket. Clomp (because that’s the noise your giant boots make on the campground paved road) off to the bathroom in the monsoon. Briefly, for a split second, wonder if that guy who has been creepily circling in a rental car all day, without setting up a tent or any camping supplies at his site, is out there waiting for a victim. Decide you don’t care: if he kidnaps you, maybe he’ll put you out of your current misery.

Successfully make it to the bathroom and back. Attempt to get back in the car without dropping your blankets onto the wet ground, or getting your wet boots and jacket all over your dry blankets.

Step Nine: Sleep!

Somehow, by the grace of the camping gods and mother nature, fall asleep. Get a solid two hours of sleep in before you wake up and realize “holy crap, I was sleeping! I fell asleep! HALLELUJAH!” Realize how wildly sore your back is. For a girl who regularly sleeps on the floor, this car seat is brutal. Find comfort in the fact that you can see the sun starting to rise, which means you can finally give up on this “attempting to sleep” game and just get on with your day.

Step Ten: Success

Climb out of your car once the sun has risen. Greet friend as he climbs out of the back of his converted, warm, flat, and comfortable truck. “You didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning! ” he declares enthusiastically.

“No I most certainly did not!” you respond, with equal enthusiasm.


Man, I really love camping.

About Heather

Hi. I'm Heather. Exercise physiologist by day, adventure seeker...also by day, and sometimes night. I like: mountains, running long distances, rabbits, sleeping in tents, poking at campfires with a stick, and Gordon Lightfoot. I dislike: peanut butter, bent tent poles, sitting still for too long, and writing "about me" sections.