Some people dread camping trips, thinking that spending the night in a tent means 8 hours of tossing and turning on the cold, hard ground and waking up with a stiff neck. Camping doesn’t have to mean lack of sleep, though. Many people enjoy the rest and relaxation that comes from being in nature. By following a few simple tips, you can get a restful night's sleep inside your tent and wake up ready for whatever adventures the next day may bring.
1. Invest in a Quality Sleeping Pad
There is no shame in spending money on a good sleeping pad. Even long-distance backpackers would not consider hitting the trail without one, because the amount of heat the insulation keeps from being lost to the ground more than offsets the extra clothes you would need to stay warm without it. There are many types to choose from, including lightweight self-inflating ones that fold down to a very small size when deflated, as well as the old reliable foam pads that you can strap to your pack.
2. Bring a Pillow
While it is possible to improvise by filling your sleeping bag stuff sack with clothes and using it as a pillow, consider allowing yourself to bring a nice pillow from home. Especially if you are accustomed to using a certain type of pillow, you may not be able to drift off without it. If you must share a tent with others and are self-conscious about drooling while sleeping, having that little bit of padding will help you to position yourself on your back, where you are less likely to wake up in a puddle.
3. Change Your Clothes Before Bed
When it is cold outside, the last thing you want to do is strip off your clothes; however, having the discipline to do so can mean the difference between a good night's sleep and a restless one. The reason is that even in cold weather, your body is always giving off moisture, which accumulates in your clothing. This small amount of wetness then prevents the filling in your bag from doing its job of insulating you. Experienced campers know how important it is to change every stitch of clothing before turning in.
4. Check the Temperature Rating of Your Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags come with ratings indicating the minimum temperature at which a person will be reasonably comfortable. For example, a 30-degree bag will at least hypothetically keep you warm when the temperature outside dips just below freezing. However, this rating depends on what kind of sleeper you are. If you normally require several layers of blankets, you may wake up shivering when the thermometer reads 40 or 50 degrees, regardless of what your bag has promised. So be sure you are prepared with a sleeping bag that fits your needs.
5. Turn Off Your Phone
Once you have decided to call it a day, there is no reason to leave your phone on during the night. Most evidence indicates that sleeping with a smartphone is extremely disruptive to your sleep cycle. Going camping is about leaving the normal stressors of your daily life behind and tuning in to the way your body’s rhythms begin to synchronize with the cycles of nature. Check your messages one last time, take a picture of yourself snug in your sleeping bag, and power your phone off for the night. New alerts can wait until morning.
Sleeping well in the outdoors is a skill you can learn. All it takes is a willingness to leave the comfort of your own bed and figure out a way to feel just as warm and relaxed in a different environment. So, next time a friend invites you to go camping, don’t make an excuse to stay home. Try these tips and see if you don’t come back from the trip well-rested and with a fresher outlook on your everyday routine.
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