You will be shocked to know the effects that a lack of sleep causes on your body, especially when you are outdoors. It will deteriorate your health, lessen your stamina and blow up your mental and physical strength. Also, the amount of physical activity you will do on the next day will come shooting down as it all depends on the quality of sleep you have had the previous night. Why go through the pain of sleepless nights? Just turn sleepless nights into restful nights with a few sleeping tips up your sleeve.
For a good sleep in the outdoors, it’s very important that you have a good sleeping gear that backs you up. Another prerequisite is to select a sleeping bag based on the temperature it’s graded for and the temperature it is going to be used in.
However that’s not all. You will be facing a lot of unexpected scenarios like sleeping amidst Extreme Temperatures, High Altitudes, Insects and Bugs, Unfamiliar Sounds and a lack of familiar and cozy environment. A good quality sleeping bag is not enough to battle these sleep disruptors.
Here are a few sleeping tips you can use to sleep restfully in the outdoors amidst unexpected scenarios.
Scenario 1: Sleeping in Extreme Weather Conditions
The most common factor disrupting your sleep is Temperature. It’s either too cold or it’s too hot. Either ways, you end up losing your sleep which is not that great considering you will have an eventful day planned the next morning. So it’s better to be prepared for both the extreme temperatures with a few sleeping tips.
Sleeping Tips for when it’s cold/ snowing
Make sure your sleeping bag has a liner
Always make sure that your sleeping bag comes with a liner. If not, make sure you buy it and carry one yourself for an extra layer of insulation. Slipping a liner inside your sleeping bag will add about 6 – 10 degrees of warmth, help regulate your body temperature and also prevent the bag from getting dirty by your sweat and body oil.
Insulating mat/ Carry-mat
Sleeping on the ground will pull all the heat from your body. To prevent this, you have to create a barrier between your body and the ground. Use an insulating mat/ carry-mat as a barrier and place it beneath your sleeping bag.
Self heating warmers
Using disposable chemical warmers is a smart and easy trick to battle freezing outdoor nights. Remove them from the packets they come in and slide them in your gloves or socks, wherever you are cold. Just make sure they are in contact with your skin for this trick to work.
Thermals & Socks
If it’s brutally cold, you must carry a pair of thermals and woollen socks which should be kept separately for sleeping. Don’t wear it while hiking or camping in the day as they need to be completely dry at night. A damp and cold night is much worse than a dry and cold night.
Eat a hearty meal
Going to bed on an empty stomach means your body won’t have the energy to keep you warm the whole night. Instead, put a warm meal in your belly before sleeping. Your body will digest the food while you’re asleep and the process of digestion will generate good amount of heat to keep you internally warm.
Wear a Hat/ Buff/ Skull Cap to sleep
You lose most of the body heat from your head, so your main priority should be keeping your head warm. Always sleep wearing your buff/ beanie/ skull cap to retain the body heat.
Do not cover your Nose and Mouth
We understand the temptation of sticking your entire face and head under the sheets in the cold weather. But that’s not really helpful. Do not cover the airways because the moisture produced from your breathing will turn everything damp and cold inside the sleeping bag. To avoid this, cover your head and half your nose, but keep your nostrils and mouth uncovered.
Hot water bottle
Fill up your water bottle with hot water and place it near your feet at the bottom of your sleeping bag. Make sure the lid is secured tightly. This will keep you warm and you can keep or move the bottle near any area of your body that gets cold. A plus to this trick is that you have unfrozen water to drink in the morning.
Don’t hold in your pee
If you get a nature’s call in the middle of the night, answer it. Do not hold your pee in. Just get up and go. Your body spends a lot of energy holding it in, which might be rather spent on warming you up.
Use rocks if sleeping in open (Worst Case Scenario)
We advise you to stay inside a tent or build an improvised shelter if it’s particularly cold. But if you can’t do that, grab some rocks and put them in the campfire. Carefully remove them with long sticks or any safe equipment, dig the ground below your camping spot, shove the rocks inside and level up the ground. This trick is possible only when the ground is dry. We don’t advise doing this in freezing or sub-zero temperatures.
Beat the snow off
If it’s snowing, we assume and hope that you will be sleeping inside a sturdy tent. The snow will keep accumulating over the tent, making it heavier. In every 3 – 4 hours, beat the snow off the tent from the inside. If you are sharing the tent with someone, you can each take shifts to do this every 3 – 4 hours (depending on the amount of snowfall).
Sleeping Tips for hot weather
Build your tent under a shade
Pick a camping spot that has plenty of trees to provide shade and keep you, your food and the ground beneath the tent cool. Pitching a tent on a cool ground will make sleeping at night easier.
If you don’t find enough shade in the day, you can create your own sunshade using 2 Tarp sheets hung over your tent like a canopy that covers the tent as well as the ground beneath. You will have a comparatively cooler ground to sleep on at night.
Keep your tent ventilated
Make sure the spot you choose to sleep on overnight has proper ventilation. Also, make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. Dehydration is extremely common when you indulge in physical activities in warmer conditions.
Scenario 2 : Sleeping on High Altitude
It’s very common for trekkers to experience a disturbed sleeping pattern (Sleep Apnea) on higher altitudes. Because of lack of oxygen while sleeping, your body starts breathing rapidly to maintain the oxygen level. This adjustment causes a disturbed sleeping pattern on a higher altitude.
Poor acclimatization might lead to Acute Mountain Sickness, which might be linked to conditions like Sleep Apnea, Hypoxia, or Hypoventilation. To prevent it, climb higher, but don’t sleep straight away on a substantial altitude. Come down and try to sleep on an intermediate altitude for 1 or more days to let your body adjust with the rise in altitude and decreasing level of oxygen. Proper acclimatization helps improve the quality of your sleep a lot.
It is assumed that consuming alcohol will help regulate your body temperature and make you fall asleep at night. But don’t hold this true when you are on higher altitudes. Alcohol will leave you dehydrated and hinder your sleep.
Being hydrated is equally important for all the above temperature scenarios. Hydration is the key to survive the rough conditions as well as to get a sound sleep. Dehydration obstructs the production of sleep promoting chemicals in your body. So it’s important to keep yourself hydrated.
Your body loses a lot of fluid in hot weather conditions. Also, if you are on a high altitude in cold temperatures, chances are you have gone there for trekking. Trekking causes a lot of fluid loss through sweat, heavy breathing (in the form of vapor), and urine (which happens especially on higher altitudes and even more if you are on a diuretic drug like Diamox, which causes repeated urination).
Drink lots and lots of fluids in the day and keep yourself hydrated for a good sleep.
Scenario 3 : Sleeping amidst Insects & Bugs
This is an uncontrollable sleep disruptor and the most annoying one too. You can’t control their presence but you can prevent your body from falling prey to insect stings and bites.
Do not sleep/ camp in damp areas
Damp low-lying areas are a haven for all types of insects. Camping right next to a water body sounds like a promising adventure, but we advise you to not camp near stagnant water or wet grassy patches. Try and pitch your tent a little uphill for a drier surface, not too far away from drinkable water source.
Placing a bright light or a lantern away from your tent before sleeping will help attract insects out of your tent and also around the campsite.
It’s a must to use an insect repellent on your skin before you doze off. Actually it’s a must to use it at all times when you’re outdoors. There are also a lot of insect repellent sprays available in the market that you can spray on your clothes, more specifically on the openings at the neck, stomach, wrists and ankle.
Cover your whole body with full sleeves top wear and full length pants before sleeping.
Scenario 4 : Disturbed sleep because of
On a few camping nights, the rustling sound of leaves or the cracking sound of twigs are just enough to freak you out about the monster waiting outside your tent. Just a little something is enough to keep you wide awake the whole night. You can slay the imaginary monster with a few tricks.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to gather courage and sneak out of your tent with a headlamp or a torch. Stroll around your campsite and assure yourself that there is absolutely nothing that can harm you while you are asleep.
These are great to block all the eerie sounds of the night. No efforts needed. (Ear plugs are not advisable to be used on high altitude treks)
Scenario 5 : Sleeping in lack of familiar and cozy
This problem is pretty self-explanatory. When you are sleeping outdoors, you can’t sleep in the comfort of your bed or rest your head on your fluffy pillow. Can’t even adjust the temperature to feel nice and cosy. All of it is understandable because it comes with the territory. But if it creates a barrier between you and your sleep, then it becomes a problem.
Carry the right sleeping bag
Select a bag that is perfect for the temperature you are going to be in. If you carry a bag that is too light and the temperatures are too low, you are going to end up shivering in the brutal cold. Similarly if you carry a bag that’s too warm, you are going to be hot and clammy.
Make a good choice based on the temperature the sleeping bag is graded for and carry a fleece liner to sleep more comfortably.
If you can’t sleep without your pillow at nights, carry it with you. Just make sure you carry an inflatable one. In this way you don’t have to compromise on your comfort while sleeping and you save a lot of space in your bag as you can deflate the pillow in the morning.
Choose the right spot
The right camping spot plays a vital role in getting you a good quality sleep. In summers, choose a spot that has a lot of shade. In winters choose a spot that is first hit by the sun rays in the morning. To be insect and bug free, choose a spot away from any still water body or damp low-lying areas.
Repeat your everyday routine
Repeating the activity that you do everyday before going to bed helps a lot. For example, if brushing your teeth or drinking a warm cup of green tea is what you do every single day before bed, do it on the campsite too. This helps bring a sense of normalcy to the otherwise new environment.
Don’t let external factors hinder your sleep pattern. Use these tricks and let us know what works the best for you.
Also, send in your sleeping tips that you use to maintain a sound sleep. We would love to try them ourselves.
Until Next Time! 🙂