Falling asleep under the stars can be relaxing, romantic and rejuvenating. But unless you go glamping, spending a night on the ground in the great outdoors could mean you won’t get a good night’s sleep.
Disrupting our normal sleep patterns to spend the night in an unfamiliar environment can leave us tossing and turning throughout the night. So next time you’re packing your travel bag to head off on a camping adventure, bring along some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you sleep a little better.
Why is it so hard to sleep while camping?
The simple answer to that question is that we are in the elements. We are removed from our normal sleeping environment and taken outside in variable temperatures with strange noises we are not used to. We’re in an environment we can’t control, making it harder to control how well we sleep.
But no worry. We believe that a good night’s sleep makes you a happier camper. Here are some tips to help you do that.
15 tips for better sleep when camping
1. Block out the noise
Roaming animals and howling winds are just a few of the sounds you might want to block out. So when you pack your camping gear, be sure to bring earplugs to help you sleep better at night.
Not a fan of earplugs in bed? Then try to keep the campfire tunes going after hours by bringing a portable Bluetooth speaker. Play some soothing sounds, relaxing music or White noise to rock you to sleep
Need inspiration? You’re lucky. A Recent study found the most sleep-inducing tunes in multiple music genres. Whether you like pop, rock, or hip-hop, there are some beats that will help you get a good night’s sleep.
2. Block the light
When camping, you might want to get up early enough to catch the morning sunrise. But if not, you’ll probably wake up with it anyway because of the natural light shining into your tent.
To prevent the sun’s rays from waking you up earlier than you’d like, bring an eye mask to block out the morning sun. If you don’t like wearing an eye mask, try blackout curtains or curtains instead. Just hang them up before bed to keep the light out.
3. Set up your tent in the right place
Try to choose a prime spot to pitch your tent. For example, try placing it on a soft, flat, and level surface. If possible, try to find a seat near the toilets.
Are you expecting a windy night? Set up your tent near some trees that could act as a windbreak. Instead of just letting yourself fall somewhere, find a place where you can get a better night’s sleep.
4. Prioritize security
Anything can happen in the wild, so it’s important to be prepared. Do your research ahead of time so you can take appropriate precautions based on the local wildlife in the area. Keep essentials like a flashlight nearby so you can keep an eye on your surroundings in case unwanted visitors approach.
Also, make sure your shoes are nearby in case you need to get up at night and go somewhere. By taking the right precautions, you can have peace of mind and rest easier.
5. Defense against mistakes
Speaking of unwanted visitors: Mosquitoes and other insects are often uninvited guests when we spend the night outdoors. Hearing an annoying pest buzzing around at night can certainly wake us up. Keep them in check by planning ahead. Use bug spray or place mosquito-repellent lanterns around your tent to keep them at bay.
6. Prepare for the right temperature
Before you start your camping adventure, check the weather conditions for your camping area. Even if you camp in the summer, temperatures can drop quite a bit at night. So make sure you are prepared for the cooler weather by bringing extra blankets in case you get cold.
If you expect it to be hot in the evenings, plan accordingly. Consider pitching your tent in a direction that allows you to take advantage of any cool evening breezes.
7. Bring the right sleeping gear
Another way to prepare for the right temperatures is to bring the right sleeping gear. If you expect colder temperatures, pack up Sleeping bag or other gear designed to withstand the colder temperatures. On the other hand, if you’re anticipating a hot summer night, bring a lightweight sleeping bag designed for warmer weather.
Not only make sure your sleep gear is appropriate for the weather and season, but also that it is comfortable. Test it out before your camping adventure so you have time to swap out if needed, and prioritize comfort when expanding your collection of camping gear—a good thing camping mattress can make the difference! And don’t forget to bring your favorite pillow, blanket and other little comforts from home.
8. Dress for the occasion
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather day and night. If it’s cold outside, bring your comfy flannel pajamas and an insulated jacket to keep you warm. Dress in layers so you can remove or add them depending on how you’re feeling.
Trying to beat the sweltering heat? Wear light, breathable clothing to keep you cool throughout the night.
9. Be active during the day
Camping offers many opportunities for fun outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and fishing to name a few. Whether it’s making a campfire, lighting a party tent, or trekking in the forest, try to be active during the day. The more active you are during the day, the more likely you are to get a good night’s sleep.
10. Go to the bathroom before bed
As usual, try to use the restroom before checking in for the night. By relieving yourself before bed, you reduce the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night with the urge to do so and avoid having to wake yourself up completely to go to the bathroom.
11. Stick to your bedtime routine
In general, it’s a good idea to stick to your regular bedtime schedule even when you’re away from home. For example, try to go to bed at the same time you normally would. Brush your teeth before bed, and bring face wash and other products you would normally have on hand.
Any disruption to our regular nightly rhythm could disrupt our sleep. Avoid this by going through as many steps of your regular bedtime routine as possible.
12. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals
It can be tempting to grab a beer and a hearty meal by the campfire, but try to do so in moderation and well before bed. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a good old-fashioned s’more, but try to keep it to a minimum and plan for it earlier in the evening.
research points out that although alcohol can initially act as a sedative, this effect wears off after a few hours and causes us to have trouble sleeping. according to a University of Michigan Sleep Behavior Expert, it’s best to avoid alcohol at least three hours before bedtime and cut caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime. Corresponding Cleveland ClinicAlso, you should stop eating at least three hours before bedtime.
13. Stay hydrated
It’s important to take care of our bodies when we’re outdoors, and that includes staying well hydrated. A Harvard study found that staying hydrated not only improves your physical health and mood, but also improves your sleep quality. In general, women should drink about 11.5 cups a day and men should have 15.5 cups. Just remember to reduce your water intake in the hours before bed.
14. Consider using a sleep aid
If you have trouble falling asleep in unfamiliar surroundings or in general, consider bringing a sleep aid.
Melatonin is a hormone our body produces that signals when it’s time to go to bed. Some people take melatonin as a dietary supplement to help them relax and fall asleep more easily. As a matter of fact, research shows that more adults are now using melatonin as a sleep aid than in previous years. Just think about the amounts you’re taking – melatonin is not strictly regulated by the FDA in the United States, so quantities may vary from what you see on the label.
If you prefer not to use melatonin, there are other sleep aids you can try. There is for example soothing aromatic mists and wellness sprays to spritz on your pillow before bed to soothe yourself into a peaceful night’s sleep.
15. Plan sleeping arrangements
If you are a light sleeper you might want to consider pitching your own tent and camping alone. If you plan to share a tent with others, try to spread out so there is less disruption when someone has to get up at night. Consciously planning sleep arrangements in advance and considering the sleeping habits of others should help you make the best plans.
The last word from Sleepopolis
People tend to think of camping as “roughing”. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a comfortable camping adventure by following these simple tips and tricks for a good night’s sleep.
Brooke Williams received her master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. She enjoys writing on a range of topics from health and wellness to finance. She also graduated from Florida State University and spends her free time watching Seminoles football.