Sleeping in a tent can go either way. It’s safe to say I’ve had some of the best and worst sleeps of my life in a tent.
Thankfully, all my less successful attempts at sleeping in the great outdoors have taught me a lot about what you need to pay attention to.
If you’re a newbie camper, don’t be scared. I’m here to share my wisdom with you, and hopefully save you some suffering.
If you’ve already been tent camping and didn’t have a great experience, I’m going to tell you what you can do to change that.
These are my top 10 tips for anybody trying to find the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent.
10 Camping Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep In A Tent
A lot can go wrong when you’re sleeping in a tent. You’ve got to make sure you’re warm enough, comfortable, protected from the elements, bug-free, noise-free and of course, safe.
Here are 10 brilliant tips to make sure you sleep well.
Location, location, location!
Before you can even pitch your tent, you have to find the perfect spot. The right location will make a world of difference when it comes to having a good sleep.
Try to find a spot that’s as flat as possible. If that’s not possible, make sure that the tent is facing so that your head is at the higher end. If your feet are higher up than your head, all your blood will rush to your head, and you don’t want that.
Make sure you clear any large sticks or rocks from the area under your tent, or they could end up poking you during the night, or even damaging your tent.
Last but most certainly not least, if it’s going to be hot in the morning, make sure you go for a spot that’s got plenty of shade. There’s nothing worse than waking up in a tent that’s been transformed into a sauna by the blazing hot morning sun.
To avoid this scenario, you’ll also want to know which direction the sun will be hitting you from. So, whip out your compass and figure out which way is east.
Wear the right clothes
Avoid cotton like the plague. It might be soft and comfy and nice on your skin, but it’s also heavy and it retains water. That means it traps sweat, which could leave you soaking wet and freezing cold in the middle of the night.
Instead of cotton, wear clothes that are made of materials such a polyester, nylon, wool or silk. Wool is good for an extra layer, but beware of the fact that some types of wool can be itchy if you wear them directly on your skin.
Don’t sleep naked, but don’t overdress either. It’ll be a bit different for everyone, so you’ll have to experiment a bit to figure out how much clothing is right for you.
Make sure you’ve got the right gear
To sleep comfortably in a tent, you’re going to need the following items:
Something to sleep on
When it comes to what you’ll actually be sleeping on, you’ve got a few options:
- A sleeping pad is a great solution, especially if you’re backpacking and short on space. Make sure that you have a sleeping pad with an appropriate temperature rating, especially if you’re camping in cold weather.
- Alternatively, you can use a blow-up camping mattress. These can be quite heavy, so not great for backpacking. However, if you’re car camping, an air mattress is a comfy and convenient option.
- If space isn’t an issue, you can opt for a camping cot. This would have to be the most comfortable option, but also the heaviest and bulkiest
A sleeping bag and/or blankets
I’d recommend getting a good quality sleeping bag, especially if it’s going to be cold at night. Make sure it’s got a temperature rating suitable for the conditions you’re expecting on your trip. Don’t trust the official rating though, always go for a sleeping bag that can handle at least 15 degrees colder than you’re anticipating.
When it comes to winter camping, it’s also a good idea to have a sleeping bag liner for extra warmth.
If it’s summer and the nights are warm, you can get away with just using blankets. Make sure you’ve got plenty of them though, just in case the weather turns on you unexpectedly. Let’s face it, it can happen when you least expect it.
Having a nice, comfy camping pillow is essential if you don’t want to wake up with a sore neck.
If you’re car camping, you can take your favorite pillow from home. If you’re backpacking, an inflatable pillow is a great solution. They’re ultra lightweight and tiny when deflated. Pretty comfy, too.
Fill up all the space in your sleeping bag
The more empty space you have in your sleeping bag, the more difficult it becomes to stay warm. That’s why a mummy bag is better for cold weather than rectangular bags.
If you’re not quite warm enough and there’s space in your sleeping bag, stuff some clothes in there to fill the space and keep you nice and snug. Make sure they’re completely dry, of course, or you’ll end up with the opposite effect.
Keep noise to a minimum
If you’re lucky enough to be camping somewhere where all you can hear are the sounds of mother nature, you’re in for a treat. These sounds will lull you to sleep and soothe your mind throughout the night.
If, however, you’re on a family camping trip at a busy campsite with lots of different noises all around you, it’s a great idea to have a pair of earplugs. A good pair of earplugs will block out all the noise and help you get to sleep faster.
Keep the bugs away
As much as I love spending time in nature, there’s one thing about it I’m not such a big fan of.
Especially at night.
Especially while I’m asleep.
There are a few things you can do to keep them at bay.
The first is using bug repellent. This works great, but the smell can attract bears. So, maybe give the bug spray a miss if you’re in bear country.
Another thing you can do is use a bug net. Hanging one of these up over yourself while you sleep will keep even the tiniest bugs out of your personal space, so you can rest easy.
Have a bite before bedtime to stay warm
I’m not talking about a full on meal, so don’t get carried away. Eating too much before bed can give you a stomach ache. But, having a little snack can get your digestive system going just enough to warm you up a little bit while you sleep.
It’s also a good idea to have a warm beverage, like a nice cup of tea or hot cocoa. Make it non-alcoholic though, as drinking alcohol can cause you to lose heat while you sleep.
Use a hot water bottle
If it’s a particularly chilly night, a hot water bottle can be a life saver. Clinging onto one of these babies feels like the warmest hug. If you’re having trouble staying warm, nothing will give you quicker relief than a nice hot water bottle between your body and your sleeping bag.
The best place to keep the hot water bottle if you really want to warm yourself up fast is between your legs. Naughty, I know. It works, though, I swear.
Do some light exercise to heat up before you hit the hay
Again, nothing too serious. You don’t want to break a sweat or pump yourself up too much.
Light floor exercises you can do in your sleeping bag, like sit-ups, are perfect. This will get your circulation going and help you get nice and toasty warm.
Keep anything that has a scent out of your tent
What’s the worst way you can imagine being woken up from your sleep while camping out?
How does being woken up by a bear clawing at your tent sound?
Well, that’s exactly what could happen to you if you keep anything in your tent that smells good to a bear.
Things you want to keep out of your tent (preferably in a bear canister some distance from your tent) include:
- Any and all food
- Personal hygiene products
- Bug spray
Finally, make sure you don’t go to bed wearing the same clothes you cooked your dinner in. It’s no use hanging your food up in a bear canister if you’re lying in your tent smelling like a nice hot meal.
Sleep Tight, Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite
Now you know what you can do to make sure you have a comfortable sleep next time you’re camping. These are all little things that don’t take much effort, but they’ll make an unbelievable difference when it comes to getting a good night’s rest.
Keep these 10 tips in mind and you’re sure to wake up rested, rejuvenated and ready for a day of adventure!