30 Tips for getting the best sleep when camping and at festivals
After reading these 30 tips, you’ll be a professional sleeping expert.
Well, not quite, but you’ll know how to get a good night’s rest on your camping trips. (Which is a lot easier said than done!)
A peaceful night’s sleep under the twinkling stars surrounded by the magical wonders of nature whilst every last worry seems to diminish…
What most of us picture before camping for the first time, right?
First time campers get hit with a serious case of idealism vs reality… well, if you are ill-prepared.
But, you won’t be! Because you’re going to read this guide which will change your camping game forever. More specifically, how you prepare for sleep.
1. First step: Get sleeping basics in order
Let’s get down to basics. Seems like a sensible place to start.
Grab a pen and paper and let’s get a tick list together…
2. Earplugs make a huge difference to sleep when camping
We can often forget about our little foamy friends, but remember they are your ultimate sleeping companion when on a camping adventure.
Especially if you are not used to sleeping outside, earplugs can block out any rustling sounds you may mistake for a giant wild bear and send you into a hysterical panic.
Even when you are asleep, noise is still registered by your brain which can cause you to wake, fidget, move in and out of sleep stages or cause a change in heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Light – the most important factor that affects sleep
Beautiful sunshine. It can make your trip all the more relaxing.
During the day.
When we’re trying to sleep? No thank you.
Light is the most important external factor that affects our sleep. It programs our internal body clock and tells us when its time to be awake and asleep.
Its not so much an issue at home during Summer as we can use blackout curtains. But when camping, the thin material of our tents can lose to the persistence of strong sun beams.
Make sure to take an eye mask with you so you are in charge of your internal body clock… nice try, sun!
4. The best pillow to take on your adventure…
Take your own.
If you have the room to take your usual pillow, then pack your reliable friend with you.
This will help you sleep better as it is what you are used to, so will cause minimal disturbance to your routine. Its also your usual pillow for a reason, hopefully because it is what you find most comfortable.
‘You really expect me to fit a huge pillow in my tiny backpack?’ Ok, I understand. Packing space is usually limited on a camping trip. There are plenty of pint-sized options for you.
Try researching these more compact options for travel pillows:
- Smaller memory foam pillows
- Pillowcase filled with clothes or fleece jacket
5. Find the perfect bedding for you
Being near nature has been scientifically proven to help relax you, so sleeping should be a breeze. But this isn’t always the case.
The bed you choose plays a big role in the quality of your slumber. Here are the top options to choose from:
Sleeping bag – A great value for money option that is warm and comfortable.
Air mattresses – Another value for money option that can be rolled up and easily transported. Extra comfort is provided but you’ll need to take your own blankets.
Folding beds – An easy to set up option that is sturdy and keeps you off the ground.
Sleeping pad – This includes air pads, self-inflating pads and foam pads. Air pads tend to offer more comfort whereas foam pads can be more practical as there is no risk of a puncture.
6. Why pyjamas affect your sleep when camping…
Stifled in the night and waking up in a pool of sweat… or shuddering so much that you’re on the verge of causing a serious injury.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The right pyjamas should keep you at optimal temperature during the night whilst keep you nice and dry and sweat free.
If you’re concerned about being too cold, pack some thick, fleecy PJs. If you’re predicting hot weather, look into natural materials. Cotton and linen are best as they are lightweight, breathable and incredibly soft.
7. Got a routine? Stick to it!
If you have a regular night time routine, try follow it while you’re camping.
When I say routine, this could be anything from a certain time you go to bed, a night time skin care routine, having a cup of tea or any other rituals you have.
This will help your brain get ready to unwind and prepare your body for a deep sleep.
8. Picking your camping area for the best sleep
It’s a good idea to do some research on the camp site you plan to stay at. Read reviews, check the facilities, look at some photos, you know… the usual analysis.
But, what about when you get there?
Where’s the best spot? Where’s most comfortable? How do I choose? Here’s how…
- If you’ve found a spot that looks acceptable, lie down and roll around. I’m not joking. This will tell you if there’s any rocks or unevenness that may cause discomfort in the night.
- If sleep is your main concern (over socialising), try look for the quietest spot away from other tents.
- Even during Summer, the wind can be pretty wild. Find somewhere sheltered, perhaps near bushes or a hedge to block your tent from forceful gusts in the night which could keep you awake.
- If you find a perfect spot but it is on a slight incline, make sure to position your tent so that you will be lying with your head facing uphill.
13. How to sleep when it’s too warm
Ideally your sleeping environment should be 16-18°C.
Small space + sweaty weather + synthetic materials = goodbye sleep.
Beat the heat with these top tips:
- Take a battery powered fan to create a cooling breeze
- If the weather is hot pitch your tent in a shaded area
- Use a reflective tarp to keep the inside of your tent cool
- Stay by a river or lake to catch the cold breeze
- Remove your tents rain cover as this may trap additional heat and moisture
- Promote ventilation during the day by keeping the doors and windows open
- Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and place in your bed to keep it nice and cool
Tips for getting to sleep quickly
We’re doing well so far. We’ve got the ultimate sleeping set up and we’re armed with the best hacks for a peaceful night.
Want to take it to the next level?
Get to sleep… quickly?
It can be done. Even when camping. I wouldn’t lie to you.
21. Squeeze in that exercise
You may not have exciting activities planned for every single day, but make sure you get some exercise. Sitting around all day it will make it even harder to fall asleep at night.
Studies show that exercise has been proven to improve sleep quality and make us feel less tired.
22. Sore muscles after a long day of hiking?
Its bound to happen, so make sure you pack some pain killers to soothe sore muscles and joints. Aches and pains can be a real issue at night time, as it can be the only thing our mind has to focus on.
If you want to avoid tablets, take a hot water bottle instead to soothe the soreness.
23. Don’t eat a big meal before bed
Try not to eat your evening meal right before you go to sleep. This is because it can cause your blood sugar levels to increase during the night, which could result in a blood sugar crash.
This can lead to adrenal exhaustion, which has a whole host of sleep affecting symptoms.
24. Keep the bottle topped up
Is there any crevice of the internet that doesn’t tell you to drink more water? Well, we’re going to add to it:
Drink more water.
No, seriously, it is vital when you are camping. The hot weather, strenuous activities and humidity all contribute to the importance of staying hydrated. Not only does it affect our sleep in a hugely negative way, dehydration can also cause these symptoms:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry mouth, lips and eyes
- Extreme thirst
Tips for getting better sleep at festivals
You’ve got camping nailed, congratulations!
I’ve given you my top tips for getting the best nights sleep at a relaxing camp site.
Can these tips be applied to festivals?
But, are you going to need a little extra help?
I have added this section for sleeping at festivals because they are a different breed of camping. They are dirtier, boozier, busier, louder and much harder to get a good night’s sleep at. That is why you need all the help you can get if you are attending a festival this year…
25. Arrive fashionably early
Although arriving before everyone else may not be ideal, it is the only way to make sure you get first pick of all the best spots. Take a good look around when its quiet and use my previous tips to choose a comfortable spot.
I’d recommend avoiding walkways or paths to the toilets.
26. Don’t need the toilet before bed? You do.
Always go to the toilet before bed. Even if you don’t think you need it. I can almost guarantee that if you don’t, you will tuck yourself up, close your eyes and get that infuriating realisation just as you’re about to drift off.
It’s also a good idea to keep some shoes and a jacket by your bed for any midnight trips.
27. Sharing is caring
The idea of a tent to yourself may sound like a good one when you’re making the pre-festival arrangements. However, it is something you may live to regret.
Sharing a tent with a friend is good for two reasons:
- You get a little extra warmth to keep you cosy in the night.
- Your mind is put at ease as it feels safer when having a friend by your side.
28. Drape it like it’s hot
Even I’m mad at myself for making that pun, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Use an extra sheet to drape over your tent to block out light. A combination of live shows with flashing lights playing all through the night and pesky early morning sunshine, this is an easy hack that makes a world of difference.
29. Earplugs not cutting it?
If you’ve decided to be sensible and get an early night, your ear plugs may have a difficult battle with the bands that will continue to play very loudly.
Take some earphones and create a relaxing playlist on your phone just in case your earplugs aren’t blocking out the noise.
Take a look at our peaceful sleep playlist that will put you into a deep sleep for some song inspiration.
30. Protect your valuables
Keep your valuables such as phone, purse and money hidden away from the front entrance of your tent. Perhaps in or under your pillow. This will put your mind at ease and allow you to sleep soundly.
Have we missed some major tips for sleeping when camping or at festivals? Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your suggestions…