Is there anything better than leaving the bright lights, noise, smog and stress of Toronto and getting back to nature? Not for me anyway. A few days hiking in the hills and camping in the woods has been proven to do absolute wonders for our body and mind. Being separated from our screens, escaping the confines of our offices and homes and putting on hold anxieties about bills and work deadlines is a great stress reliever …and being outside is pure bliss!
Well, it is if you can get enough sleep anyway. Sometimes the great outdoors and a great night’s sleep don’t mix.
While we have some genuinely awe inspiring stretches of wilderness out there, Mother Nature isn’t always the most welcoming when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. If you’re not properly prepared, the cold, uninviting ground, the weird noises outside your tent and even your rumbling belly can lead to a waking nightmare. I’m sure even Grizzly Adams sometimes found it hard to nod off!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of pre-planning, you can improve your outdoor sleep experience. Read on below and I’ll let you in on my tips for getting better sleep while camping:
Don’t be a cheapskate
For sure camping is all about leaving the trappings of our hyper-consumerist world behind and getting back to basics. Some people take this too far, however, and as a result, there’s a lot of unnecessary machismo around heading to the woods.
Some people seem to believe that going camping means putting yourself through unnecessary suffering. Well, I’m here to tell you that since you’re not Bear Grylls filming a TV show, you don’t have to!
Camping should be fun and if that means bringing some home comforts with you to ensure you get a good night’s sleep, then so be it. What I’m getting at is don’t skimp on your gear. Do your research wisely and get yourself a good tent, a decent backpack and whatever else you need to ensure you can get a good night’s sleep.
If you end up with no dry clothes because you bought a cheap backpack that wasn’t waterproof, then you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself. Oh, and don’t blame the weatherman, everyone knows they are just making it up!
You will be impressing no one by sleeping bareback on the cold, hard ground, least of all your poor spine. So if you have the space, why not even bring along something a little bit more luxurious to lie on.
Accessories are your wilderness friends
Having the right accessories when camping can mean the difference between a restful night and bags under your eyes the size of your sleeping bag! And no, when I say accessories, I don’t mean bringing a change of earrings to match your tent.
Two simple and super lightweight accessories always make it into my backpack. The first is the humble eye mask. While it might not look the coolest, an eye mask will do wonders for your slumber when that dawn light starts to stream through the thin canvas walls of your tent.
The second is a simple pair of earplugs. What nobody tells you about the woods is that things can get pretty loud out there. Whether it is the wind rustling through the leaves, the pitter patter of rain, the disconcerting shuffling of an animal or simply your friend Dave’s snoring from the tent next door.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on those frankly anti-socially loud songbirds that think it’s cool to start singing at 4:30 in the morning. Shhhh!
Always change for bed
The night is cold and full of shivers. Nothing will ruin a night in the woods more completely than being too cold to sleep.
A mistake many campers make is sleeping in the clothes they’ve worn during the day. They might feel nice and toasty when you climb into you sleeping bag, but if your clothes are even slightly damp (and they will be), then as the night goes on, this moisture will evaporate and cause your body temperature to drop substantially.
Once the shivering kicks in, it can be hard to warm up. At the lower end of the scale, being cold in the woods can be frustrating, but at the other end, it can be downright dangerous.
One of my top tips for getting better sleep while camping is never use the clothes you’ve been wearing during the day as your pajamas. Always change for bed. A good set of base layers make perfect nightwear.
Well, there you go camping fans…three simple ways to make sure your next wander in the woods ends in a rejuvenating rest and not a night of sleeping-bag-based stress. Happy camping!