Does the car help you fall asleep?

According to a survey conducted by Citroën, 44% of parents have already used a car trip to put their baby to sleep. A soporific effect that some adults also claim to experience. Where does this link between sleep and car come from? Is it the same in an electric? Lighting of L’argus.

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Raphael Desrosiers

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Properly installed in their seat, most children fall asleep more easily in the car.

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Weighted blankets, gadgets allowing you to synchronize your breathing, soothing tablets… The market for accessories for finding sleep is not experiencing a crisis. Especially with parents of young children, who sometimes have trouble putting their offspring to sleep. Some have their own tricks. In any case, this is what a survey conducted by Citroën in March and April 2022 with 2,000 parent drivers with babies/children under 5 years old. No less than 44% of them said they had already taken their child for a short drive to help him get to sleep. A practice that is not really economical with the prices of fuel and electricity constantly rising. According to a study conducted by Nissan in 2020, this practice would add nearly 70 kg of CO2* the annual carbon footprint of a household.

Why does the car fall asleep?

This soporific effect of automobiles has been little studied, but it would come from the noises that reach thecockpit. Obviously not those of traffic horns or sirens of priority vehicles, but those emitted by the engine (when there is one) or the bearing. Noises attenuated by the insulation of the passenger compartment and which would have the same effect as the famous white noises. The latter are acclaimed to facilitate sleep for both adults and children thanks to their frequency which would cause calming. In reality, there is no scientific proof on this subject, but specialists recognize the capacity of these noises to drown out others.

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citroen noise sleep

Nearly one in two parents has already taken their child by car just to put him to sleep.

DR

Thomas Andrillon, researcher in neuroscience, summarizes well the state of knowledge on the subject in an interview at Slate : « White noise is sound that is equally composed of different frequency bands of the auditory spectrum. It is called white by analogy to white light, which results from the superposition of the different colors of the auditory spectrum. When we present white noise, we will thus uniformly activate the hair cells of the inner ear. The direct effect of white noise is to increase the basal activity of the inner ear. Other sounds will therefore have a harder time being recorded by it (and routed to the brain). White noise can therefore help to drown out sounds that could disturb sleep. »

Less soothing electrics and hybrids?

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nissan leaf lullaby

To compensate for the silence of electric cars, Nissan had proposed in 2020 a playlist of lullabies taking up the frequency of white noise.

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The soporific aspect of car journeys for passengers would therefore come from the absence of sound disturbances, which also explains why it is easier to fall asleep during a journey on the motorway than in town or in a thermal car than in an electric one. Which had also led Nissan to release in 2020 a playlist of lullabies to use in his electrics. The Citroën study nonetheless underlines that 56.4% of respondents, who have recently swapped their petrol or diesel car for a hybrid or electric, say that their child falls asleep as well or even better than in their previous vehicle. Slightly less than 12%, on the other hand, declare that their child fell asleep more easily when lulled by the purr of a combustion engine. The feelings of these parents also establish that a smooth ride, a pleasant temperature and a comfortable seat are the main factors that help their children fall asleep.

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