A great night’s sleep and the great outdoors don’t often go hand in hand. First of all, there’s the soundscape ringing in your ears—enthusiastic crickets, mysterious howls and scary scratchings. Then there’s the creepy crawly factor; wondering what that is tickling your face, whether something got into your sleeping bag, if you need to get up for the hundredth time to investigate. Not to mention a ton of other environmental factors—being freezing at night, roasting in the morning, sleeping on the hard ground, needing to trek into the forest for the bathroom…not exactly the makings of a sound sleep.
Even Bear Grylls must have sleepless nights when camping. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out these tips to get a better sleep in nature, and enjoy a more restful camping trip.
1. Prepare for all weather extremes
It may be sunny blue skies during the daytime but that doesn’t mean there’ll be any warmth left at night. As you probably know, the clearer the sky, the colder it’s likely to be at night without any cloud cover. Nothing makes a camping trip more miserable than being freezing cold, or getting soaking wet. It will certainly ruin your sleep and you might end up feeling unwell on the journey home. So even if you’re setting off in shorts and a t-shirt, pack plenty of warm clothes for night-time. That includes jackets, gloves, a variety of head and neckwear, plus a good set of waterproofs.
2. Shop wisely for your camping gear
You’ll probably be needing things like your sleeping bag, your tent and your roll mat to last you more than one trip, right? So it’s worth spending a little extra when you’re shopping for your camping gear. Do your research for the best brands and models and choose quality and durability over price if you’re doing some hardcore camping in extreme conditions.
Also, consider their purpose before you get carried away. For instance, if you’re only going camping in your back garden, a 4-season sleeping bag probably isn’t needed! So after doing some online research, go into your local outdoors store and ask plenty of questions. The staff should be pretty knowledgeable and can help you pick out camping gear for your requirements. If you’ve done your homework first, this’ll be a lot easier.
3. Take whatever extra luxuries you need
You’re not going to impress anyone by trying to be all tough and refusing any little luxury that could help you sleep. After all, this is meant to be a trip that you enjoy, not a survival test. You also won’t be able to get as much out of each day if you’re wrecked after getting no sleep. So complement your sleeping bag with something soft to lie on; no one will judge you for making a smart decision.
Same goes for accessories like earplugs and eye masks. The earplugs can help you block out all the sounds of nature that you don’t want to hear; whether it’s those mysterious howls or your partner’s snores. While the eye mask can help you sleep past 5am, when the sunlight would otherwise light up your tent. (Of course, you might be an early bird and be well up by this time already; more on that in a sec.)
No matter where I’m camping, I bring a little stove to boil hot water so that I can make tea, or soup, or porridge in the morning. It’s always handy having these little luxuries in your arsenal, a little home comfort in the midst of the wilderness.
4. Adjust your body clock
At home, you might stay up watching movies until 1am and sleep in until 9am (at least). But in the great outdoors, this probably won’t be an option. There’ll probably be little to keep you occupied past 9pm, even if your book is a cracker. Plus, the sun will likely wake you up early in the morning; even if its light doesn’t penetrate your eye mask, your tent can get quite hot, pretty soon.
So respect the circadian rhythms of Mother Nature herself. Get to bed early, get your recommended 7 hours’ sleep in, and you’ll find yourself refreshed come morning. (If not, go for a nice dip in the freezing lake nearby. That’ll do it.)
Who knows, this new routine of following natural light might even help you sleep better when you get home. So it’s definitely worth a try.
Hopefully, these tips can give you a little inspiration for making your next camping trip a little comfier. Of course, if you’re spending the daytime hiking and exploring and generally soaking up the wonders of the natural world, you’re bound to be sleepier at night-time; but these tips will ensure you have a comfier environment to lay down your head for an awesome night’s sleep.
This article was written by Sarah Cumming and brought to you by Sleep Advisor.