Sleeping on a Train

Sleeping on a train is a frequent complaint. Some complaints simply reflect the attitudes of chronic complainers. More substantial is the complaint of not being able to fall asleep which can be assisted in the same way that travelers take motion sickness pills on planes, boats and trains: Take a pill--see Sleep Helpers. The following describes ways to sleep on a train when you don't have a sleeper ticket. I can't comment on sleepers since I have never had one. I've needed one despite being a narcoleptic insomniac.

Remember, attitude is important. If you wake up and allow yourself to be angry, you will initiate the biological fight or flight response that will elevate your central nervous system chemicals to make you as alert as possible for self-survival. Like most problems in life, chuckle first and the problem will be less. Like Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans disaster, the real reason for most people failing to optimize their lives or sleep is their response to the initial problem. If you must be dumb, please go to the lounge car--don't grumble and wake others up.

Besides one's coach seats, there are many other ways to sleep on a train. During quiet hours--after the cafe service closes--one can sleep in the lounge. Rarely does this rail rider not have a place to stretch out. More often than not, if I have a seat companion, I tell them to expect to have both seats for riding and sleeping. Or, if one seat is unoccupied, I select a  couple to whom I offer my seat. With the increase in rail usage, this option will decrease as is the case on most routes on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. (Selfishly, I can't share some of my special sleep secrets. I hope you understand. It is like telling everyone about your favorite restaurant.)

A simple tent solution can help a family of four get a better nights sleep. Turn one of the seats around so you have two seats facing each other. Raise the footrests so that you have a small double bed. Double? Where do the other two passengers sleep? One of the children sleeps under the footrests while the other child sleeps in the teepee created by one of the seats touching the back of an adjacent seat.

Amtrak personnel once were trained to initiate seat adjustments. Now, they will not initiate and may object to your turning a seat. To some degree it is like elimination of free movies so as force passengers to buy "railmedia" dvd players. The problems with this example of "free market" enterprise, that is, to free the non-privileged of some money. Suffice it to say it was a lot quieter and less contentious in the passenger coaches when movies were shown in the lounge and cafe. More than one instance of rail "road rage" was observed due to noisy personal electronic equipment. One person kept saying he should not have to turn his CD player down since he had forgot his earphones.

Sleep Helpers

As you would take a motion-sickness pill on a plane, boat or train, consider a similar approach if you suffer motion-sleeplessness. Tylenol PM was found to work nicely. If you want to spend a few more dollars, get a 30-day script for ten or twenty milligram Ambien which you cut into 2.5 mg chips. The original 600 milligrams of Ambien (30x20) will give you 240 sleep-inducing chips that will last for several years of Railing. While OTC sleep pills are cheaper and more readily available, Ambien does not give you a drousy wake-up (personal experience). If one does not do, take another.

Do not use alcohol to try to induce sleep. Absolutely, do not take alcohol with Ambien unless you want to risk wandering off of a train that will leave without you but leave with your personal articles--see Saskatoon Swirling Dervish. Accounts of alcohol and ambien leading to bizarre behavior are numerous and should not be taken lightly. You don't want to wake up in a strange place and wonder how you got there, e.g., a jail.

Like all medications that alter baseline metabolism in the body, you should not use them chronically without vacations from them so that you body can restore its baseline metabolism, e.g., aspirin, alcohol, caffiene and opiates. Otherwise your body's stasis will become acclimated and you will need ever higher doses to maintain your edge until you fall over the edge: ulcers, dementia, high blood pressure, and madness. Ambien is life preserver that should only worn when you are in the water, not on dry land.