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How to get a good night’s sleep when you’re camping

Inside a tent with a blackout bedroom

It’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep when you’re camping. Unless you’re Rip Van Winkle, the extra daylight, lumpy camping mat and nature’s dawn chorus are all guaranteed to make sleep more elusive. And however idyllic your surroundings, a few rubbish nights’ sleep could ruin your trip.

I’ve been casting around for tips on how to get a good night’s sleep under canvas. Here is what I’ve gleaned, after casting around for sleeping tips from seasoned campers.

Tips from campers on how to get a good night sleep

Add layers to your camping bed, sleeping mat or camping mattress

Experiment with using a camping bed, sleeping mat or camping mattress to see what works best for you. A self-inflating camping mat or an inflatable camping mattress can keep you away from the ground’s lumps and bumps. An egg crate mattress topper gives added comfort, and woollen blankets under a mattress help keep off the ground-chill.

Coleman inflatable mattress

An inflatable mattress can help make you sleep more comfortably

Wear layers when you’re in bed

Wherever you choose to camp, the temperature will drop at night, so it’s wise to bring blankets, jumpers and hats. I’ll be packing our snuggliest duvet, just in case.

Take a comfortable pillow from home, or a travel pillow

This was the top recommendation my friends gave me. If you have room for nothing else, make sure you bring along a comfortable pillow. It makes all the difference.

The best travel pillow I’ve tried is by Tempur®. They sent me a  Tempur Travel Pillow to test out, but I genuinely believe this is a great bit of kit to invest in if you do a lot of camping. It’s a handy size for slipping into a bag or cabin case (40 cm x 26 cm), and it’s filled with NASA memory foam, making it mega-comfortable.

Stop the light from coming into your tent

If you don’t mind the sensation of wearing one, it’s a good idea to wear an eye mask, to stop the dawn light from waking you (or the kids) at 5am.  I can’t get to sleep with an eye mask on, so I was excited to hear that you can buy tents with inbuilt blackout screens. We tested out a Coleman Cabral family tent , which has blackout bedrooms. It’s a revelation. On a recent camping trip in Scotland, D and I managed to sleep until 9am, without the sun waking us. The tent bedroom wasn’t quite dark enough for it to seem like night, but we had no idea how late it was. The fact that the children were being looked after and weren’t there to wake us up probably helped, too.

tent

Change into clean clothes for bedtime

Soft, warm pyjamas with that freshly washed smell will make your bed seem even more inviting. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to crash into bed in the clothes you’ve been wearing for the daytime, or to go to bed naked. Any perspiration will just sit there with you in your camping sleeping bag – and nobody wants to be sweaty in bed.

Keep to familiar routines

If you usually have a shower or wash before bed, a trip to the shower block last thing at night might help you wind down. Ditto with cleaning your teeth. And women might want to pee twice before going to sleep. Once 20-30 minutes before turning in, and then again just before lights-out. It’ll help avoid those midnight dashes to the loo, in the dark.

If you’re sensitive to noise, consider wearing earplugs

Earplugs are helpful for avoiding 5am wake-up calls, when all the local birds decide it’s time to begin their merriment. They can also drown out any snoring from fellow campers. The countryside can be a noisy place, so if you’re not used to all the rustlings and other night noises, earplugs can help keep those at bay, too.

Do you sleep well under canvas? What are your tips for getting a good night’s sleep when camping?

You might also be interested to read this post:

Essential camping gear hacks for a relaxing, fun time camping with kids

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How to get a good night's sleep when camping

This is a collaborative post. All views are my own.

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11 Comments

  • Louise
    July 10, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Putting a blanket under your air bed or sleep bag really helps keep you warm. Also got water bottles! Inddnt know Tempur did travel pillows will be checking these out. X

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Yes – it’s such a good idea.

      Reply
  • Laura H
    July 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Shutting up the bedroom section in the afternoon is important – if you leave it open into the evening the bedding all feels damp. Also, climb into your sleeping bag while warm; it’s tricky to warm up icy feet once they’re that cold (I have a friend who loves ot camp but refuses to go without a hot water bottle).
    And yes – PILLOW!

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks for the extra tips!

      Reply
  • Tania
    July 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Definitely the air bed and pillow – they make ALL the difference!

    Reply
  • Plutonium Sox
    July 10, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Love the sound of a blackout tent! I totally agree about a pillow too. We camp in luxury now with a folding camper / trailer tent type thing. It’s much better having a proper bed!
    Nat.x

    Reply
  • MrsS
    July 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Love these tips! A proper bed in the camper is heavenly but a good pillow, a hot water bottle is always good, and a drop of lavender on your pillow 🙂

    Reply
  • Sarah Christie
    July 13, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Such great tips Nell, I went to a sleep talk with Tempur recently it was so interesting, if you make yourself warm you sleep much better and drift off easier, if you cant sleep putting socks on to warm your feet up help, it was fascinating x

    Reply
  • Donna Vallance
    July 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Great ideas! I’m going on my first camping trip soon , wish me luck!

    Reply
    • Nell
      July 21, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I hope it all goes well! x

      Reply

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