How-to: Sleep Well on a Couch

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I think we can all agree that travel is expensive and that most of us can remember our first encounters with couch surfing. Mine  was during one of the first trips I ever took with my family when I was about 10 or 11. We rented a self-catered two bedroom house on the beach in KZN. My parents took one bedroom, the other was occupied by myself and two of my girl cousins and the boys slept in the living room. It was just like a  sleep over that went on for a week and a half. The next time I had a sleep-on-a-couch situation was when my mother's friend's son had an interview at the university and drove down to Cape Town from Jo'burg and spent three nights on our couch. Sometimes a  friend who is willing to open their doors and let you sleep on their couch while you travel is a luxury. So how do you make couch surfing work for you and sleep well on a couch?

First of all, I don't recommend sleeping on a couch as a long-term arrangement. Having a comfortable bed is one of the most important aspects of sleep. It's hard to sleep when your hips and back ache because you're not getting adequate support. Here are a few ways to get decent sleep on a couch:

1. Even though it's a couch it's still has to meet a few minimum requirements. Such as being a suitable length and steady; nothing quite as painful as trying to fit your adult body into a couch that's too short and sags from your weight. If you're really lucky then your host will have a sleeper couch, which converts into a bed.

2. Bedding is still an important part of bedtime. I remember my one of my dad's friends giving me clean, crisp sheets to lay on the blow up mattress when I stayed with his family for a few days while backpacking in Asia. Even if the couch (or blow up mattress in my case at the time) is not the quality of bed you're used to, a good, comfortable pillow will make up for it.

3. Just because you're sleeping in the living room where things like the TV set or computer may be a key feature in the room it doesn't mean you have to alter your sleeping habits. Don't give in to the  temptation to stay up online or watching cheap late-night TV. Looking at a screen for an hour after your bedtime it'll make it hard for you to fall asleep afterwards.

4. Do your best to keep to your sleeping and waking patterns. I can't emphasise this enough, for all travel -- it helps keep your body clock in one timezone, if I may. With the previous point considered it's particularly important to try and stick to your sleeping patterns and not stay up half the night while sleeping in someone's living room.

What are your couch-surfing tips? Please share in the comments.


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