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Citroën finds formula for the perfect in-car snooze

29 March 2021
  • Research by Citroën UK has shown that comfortable seating and a smooth ride are among the most important factors helping passengers catch ‘forty winks’ on car journeys.
  • 37% of those surveyed said they struggled to fall asleep as a passenger in a car.
  • Citroën's research reveals the optimum conditions needed for an in-car nap.
  • The perfect in-car power nap formula: Optimum In-Car Sleep = C (SP, T, A, L, S) - R
  • Study carried out in time for World Sleep Day – today, Friday 19 March – with the support of sleep behaviour and environment expert James Wilson, known as 'The Sleep Geek'.
  • Citroën models like the 100% electric New ë-C4 and New C4 are designed to provide maximum comfort and well-being for drivers and passengers alike through Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme.

We all know someone who can fall asleep within minutes as a passenger in a car, yet others find it much harder to nod off, even on longer journeys. In fact, more than a third of passengers say they struggle to sleep in a car, according to the latest research by Citroën UK. As part of a study of 2,000 UK motorists* carried out ahead of World Sleep Day (Friday 19 March), Citroën has come up with a formula that reveals the optimum conditions to help passengers catch 'forty winks' in a car.

The study, carried out with leading sleep behaviour and environment expert, James Wilson – a co-founder of Beingwell** – found 37% of passengers said they struggled to fall asleep in a car, while 14% said they never sleep on the move.

Citroën UK also studied which aspects of the vehicle and the driving environment are most conducive to helping passengers relax and nap in comfort. More than half of all respondents (55%) said comfortable seats make it easier to fall asleep, while a smooth ride and ample leg room were highlighted by 49% and 26% of respondents respectively. Neck and head support, as well as optimum interior temperature and ambiance, were highlighted by 24% of all surveyed.

All full-electric New ë-C4, New C4 and C5 Aircross SUV models, plus selected New C3 versions, feature Citroën’s Advanced Comfort seats as standard. With broad base cushions and seat backs, they combine high-density foam at the heart of each seat and a thick 15mm layer of extra textured foam on the surface, to keep drivers and passengers comfortable and relaxed when on the road.

James Wilson has been in the sleep industry all of his working life and has collaborated with organisations such as the NHS, various sports teams and governments across the world. His approach is based around helping people understand the simple science behind sleep, how to apply that science to themselves, and the tools and tactics that will lead to better sleep.

Citroën finds formula for the perfect in-car snooze

Using the findings from the survey, as well as Wilson's own research, Citroën came up with a formula for the Optimum In-Car Sleep (OICS), to help deliver a better in-car power nap:

Optimum In-Car Sleep = C (SP, T, A, L, S) - R
Comfort (C) is a function of Seating Position (SP), Time (T), internal Ambiance (A), Legroom (L) and Suspension (S), while external distractions such as road noise and bumps are characterised by the function (R).

James Wilson, The Sleep Geek, said: “The research provided us with interesting findings, particularly in regards to how difficult some people find it to nap as a passenger in a car, equally something I have come across throughout my work. Ensuring one’s comfort when sleeping is key and working with Citroën to put together a formula that gets people to think about their in-car sleep comfort is something that lots of people will find useful.

"We can often struggle to find time for a powernap, so the car can be an ideal place. Being able to catch a 30-minute power nap during the day, when it’s possible, is really beneficial and can certainly help people to feel reinvigorated.”

In-car comfort for both driver and passengers is at the forefront of Citroën’s Advanced Comfort® programme, including enhanced suspension and seating technology for a smoother ride.

New ë-C4, New C4 and C5 Aircross SUV are specified with Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion® technology as standard, which integrates hydraulic bump stops into the suspension for better control of compression and rebound. This helps the car reduce the effect of bumps and vibrations from poor road surfaces, and as part of the Optimum In-Car Sleep formula, reduces the function R for a more relaxed in-car environment.

Unsurprisingly, motorways and dual carriageways were found to be the most tranquil setting for passengers, with 67% of respondents falling asleep on those types of roads.

While the length of a nap depends very much on the journey, Wilson advises that passengers should sleep for no longer than 30 minutes at a time on a car journey in order to feel the full benefit and to be well rested. The research by Citroën found that, on average, passengers need just over 1hr 15 minutes on the road before they can nod off.

Eurig Druce, Managing Director of Citroën UK, said: "With more than a third of passengers struggling to fall asleep in a car, comfort plays a key role in creating an environment where passengers can doze off for a quick power nap. Our research shows some of the optimal conditions to achieve a comfortable sleep environment, with our cars designed for maximum comfort and well-being.”

While some drivers may get disgruntled when their passengers nod off, Citroën's research found that two thirds (66%) are not really that bothered if their travelling companions fall asleep during a journey. For those drivers who prefer passengers to remain awake, the main causes of annoyance were being left without anybody to talk to and the distraction of snoring!

To aid passengers looking to achieve the most comfortable in-car power nap, James Wilson has provided his five top tips:

  1. Perfect timing: When napping, whether it is in a car or elsewhere, we should try to do it before 2.00pm.
  2. Optimum duration: When napping in a car or somewhere else, we need to be trying to sleep for no more than 30 minutes. Napping for longer than this is more likely to make us feel less sleepy at night and also for us to wake up feeling groggy.
  3. Seat comfort: The biggest complaint for many of us when waking from a nap on a journey is that we have a stiff neck or back. A comfortable, well-padded seat, the correct seating position and a supportive headrest helps to keep our neck in a neutral position and allows us to avoid aches and pains.
  4. Set the tone: To fall asleep we need a drop in heart rate and a relaxing environment. Travelling in a vehicle with a smooth ride and listening to something soothing in the car is a great way to let our minds wander. Try a podcast, a spoken book or music of less than 60 beats per minute. Using headphones also allows us to retreat into our own little world.
  5. Stretch out: Having plenty of legroom will make sure our bodies are comfortable and will ensure we don’t wake from a nap feeling physically cramped and uncomfortable.

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