While camping is an activity that is enjoyed by many, few find it easy to get a decent night’s rest outside the quiet of their home and the comfort of their bed. Maybe the weather isn’t cooperating or you just can’t get comfortable. Regardless, a sleepless night while camping can really put a damper on your fun weekend away.
We put our camping experience and love for sleep to good use and compiled a few tips on how to get better sleep while camping that you can use to make your nights in the wilderness more restful.
One common problem that people have with camping involves packing too many people and too much gear into too small a tent. One restless sleeper can make it impossible for anyone else to get any shut-eye. The solution is to get a tent that is rated for one or two people more than you’ll have along. Depending on the number of people you plan on housing, some tents even come with sectioned-rooms where you can add privacy and have your own space to stretch out.
Get Off the Ground
Make your sleep more comfortable by putting some cushioning between you and the ground. This seems obvious but hear us out. There are several solutions on the market, such as foam pads, air pads, air mattresses, cots, or hammocks. In a pinch you can also just use a thick pile of blankets. A camping-specific sleeping pad or cot will also help you wake up without that common “damp” feeling you get from sleeping a tent. Getting your body off the ground will help circulate air around you and keep you cool and dry.
Keep Warm (or cool)
If you’re going to be in a location where the temperature drops at night, be sure to have a sleeping bag that is rated for the cold. A great tip is to sleep in as few clothes as possible. We know it sounds counterintuitive but it actually allows your body heat and the sleeping bag to work together. A light base layer works well by still allowing your body heat to circulate throughout the bag. Trust us, you will wake up toasty warm.
On the other hand if you’ll be in a warmer location, remember that once the sun hits your tent it will become “sauna like” so if you plan on sleeping late make sure you properly ventilate your tent. Proper ventilation will also help with keeping moisture out of your tent. There are portable, battery-powered fans and cooling devices on the market that work very well for circulating air and keeping you cool. If your tent has hanging straps or pockets, you have a perfect place to set one up and stay cool all night.
Having a quality light source nearby when you sleep is important to getting a great night’s sleep. Let us explain. Ever gotten up in the middle of the night to use the restroom? Ever had to crawl over someone to get out of the tent? Having a lantern or flashlight handy is key because it allows you to get in and out of the tent considerably easier. Plus, you won’t be waking everyone up from fumbling around camp in the dark.
Vent Your Tent
No one likes waking up to a damp tent. Depending on the temperature drop during the night and humidity, sometimes this can’t be completely avoided. You can, however, minimize tent dampness by opening the vents to allow a free-flow of air. Companies also make battery powered, rechargeable fans that can be used in a tent that really help to circulate the air and help keep things dry.
Location, Location, Location
Make sure you locate your tent on a level surface free of large stones or sticks. This may sound like a no brainer but clearing the ground prior to setting up your tent is often overlooked. You don’t want to stake the tent down only to realize that you have a rock in the middle of the footprint. Dried pine needles make for a soft surface and get the base of your tent off the dirt. They also allow for water to easily seep through and help keep everything dry if it happens to rain.
Some people find the nighttime noises of the forest such as insects, birds, moving foliage and so forth to be pleasant, while others can’t sleep through it. Consider placing your tent near a river or stream so the noise will drown everything out. If you are camping in a larger campground, noise control is all about location. If you’re looking for the quietest night of sleep, try to reserve a site as far away from everything as possible. If the campground allows RVs and larger campers, remember that many of these campers will bring generators that can be quite loud. If you can’t avoid the noise, earplugs are also a good option.
Tire Yourself Out
You’re out camping, so take advantage of it by hiking, swimming, and engaging in other outdoor activities. That way once you lay your head down to rest you’ll have no problem conking right out.
If there’s one final piece of advice that all campers should keep in mind, it involves cleanliness. If you’re going to be sharing a tent with others, remember that no one wants to be sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder with the stinky one. Cleaning up and feeling refreshed goes a long way in terms of being comfortable and getting a better night sleep.