How to sleep well when you are camping
Camping has had a revival this year thanks to the pandemic, with many people opting to sleep under canvas rather than travelling abroad or staying in hotels and B&Bs. The camping experience is great in so many ways, but if you struggle to sleep comfortably in a tent, you can feel like you need another holiday when you get home!
But is it possible to sleep well in the great outdoors? Most certainly. Some people sleep better thanks to all the fresh air and slower pace of life. Here are our tips for making your tent feel like a haven on your camping trip.
Preparing your tent
Getting your tent ready is the first step in getting a good night’s sleep. It’s always best to set your tent up in the daytime as it’s much easier operating in a small space in the light, than fumbling around when it’s dark (and you’ve enjoyed a few drinks around the campfire).
It sounds obvious but don’t pitch your tent on a hill as you will find yourself slipping downwards during the night. Make sure you put all your food away securely so you don’t have any nighttime visitors keeping you awake.
Bring a nightlight with you or a torch and put it somewhere close to hand so you can find it easily if you need to pop to the loo in the middle of the night. Also consider putting some shoes by the entrance to your tent so, again, these are easy to find when you are trying not to wake any of the other campers in the small hours.
Making your bed
Sleep pads and inflatable beds provide comfortable options for sleeping in a tent. Self-inflating and air beds usually pack down fairly small so you can carry them in your backpack. Or you can opt for a foam pad if you are travelling by car and have more space to carry things with you.
Pillows are essential for a good sleep in a bed, and it’s no different to when you are sleeping in a tent. They provide support for your head, shoulders and spine and prevent you from waking up stiff in the morning. There aren’t many good camping pillows available, so if you can, take your pillow from home. You may want to invest in a pillow protector which is easy to launder when you get home. If you are short on packing space, consider just taking a cotton pillowcase from home, and filling it with clothes from your backpack to sleep on.
Eye masks and earplugs are a great way to block out the early morning light and ambient sound from the campsite and should be a core part of your sleep preparation for your camping holiday.
Choose a sleeping bag which suits your destination and the temperature of your location. If you are going on a Summer camping trip you may want a traditional rectangular sleeping bag which you can open up and use as a quilt - you can kick it off in the night if it gets too hot. If you are going to a cooler destination you may want a ‘backpacking’ sleeping bag which is more like a mummy shape and cocoons your body to keep in the warmth. Sleeping bags come with a range of fillings - synthetic or feather and down and these vary in how warm or cool they keep you and also how small they pack down. Bear these factors in mind when choosing your sleeping bag.
Staying warm or keeping cool
Temperature is one of the most important factors in helping you get a good night’s sleep or preventing you from getting one. And when you aren’t able to control the outside temperature, because you are sleeping in a tent, it’s important to look at other factors to help your body adjust to the best temperature for rest.
If you think you will be cool during the night, consider taking a duvet or blanket with you as well as your sleeping bag. Look for a feather and down sleeping bag which will trap warm air and help to insulate you. Consider also sleeping in cashmere night socks - warm feet often help the rest of your body feel warm. A hot water bottle is also a good idea.
If you think you are going to be too warm, consider taking a cotton sheet from home to sleep under or on top of as natural fibres can keep you cooler. You should plan to leave your tent doors open in the evening to allow heat to escape and can also look at investing in things like portable fans or even a hot water bottle filled with cold water. Try to set your tent up in the shade if possible.
A camping sleep routine
Having a sleep routine can really aid sleep but is it possible to maintain this whilst on holiday? Whilst it might not be possible to stick as rigidly to bedtimes and waking times, there are still some things you can do to maintain some sort of nighttime routine. For example, if you always brush your teeth just before you get into bed, then read for a few minutes and always wear night socks, then repeat this in your tent and the familiarity will help you drift off more quickly.
It’s also worth thinking about going to the loo a couple of times before you plan to close your eyes so that you can avoid any middle-of-the-night trips across a dark field.
Keeping your tent as dark as possible will also help you stick to a later wake-up time and if you can wear an eye mask, do.
So, with the right preparation it’s possible to sleep well whilst camping and enjoy the holiday much more than if you are tired. And with more of us than ever turning to camping as a holiday destination getting sleep down to a tee is more important than ever!