OUTDOOR BASICS

Sleeping in a Tent: Finding the Ultimate Comfort

sleeping in a tent
Jessica Bayne
Written by Jessica Bayne

First of all, when you go camping, you typically have three options when it comes to sleeping arrangements: sleeping in a tent, in a camper or under the stars. The first option is the most popular option, given the benefits it provides, such as being close to nature while still being sheltered.  Furthermore, you can combine your camping trip with hiking so you can pack every morning and hike to another location.

Moreover, camping should mean getting back to the simple life and enjoying outdoor activities.  A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything! Sleep seems like a passive activity and time consuming part of our lives, but it is not. If you do not give a chance to your body to properly recharge, you are starting the next day at a disadvantage. Sleep helps both the brain and the body rejuvenate.

enjoy sleeping in a tent

When you are planning a camping trip, you have to bear in mind that camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from your home in a tent. Sleeping in a tent is not as easy as you imagine especially if you are a light sleeper. Additionally, you have to feel comfortable, warm and safe, if you want to sleep well.  So here are some great sleeping tips for campers to ensure that you have a good time.

What happens if you do not get enough sleep?

Camping means sleeping out under the stars, relaxing, communing with nature and attaining knowledge of the surrounding territory. The vision of a perfect trip can quickly turn into a horror, if you are feeling drowsy or if your sleep cycle is interrupted multiple times throughout the night. These are the consequences of insufficient sleep.

  • It is scientifically proven that lack of sleep affects sports performance, so you will not be able to enjoy many activities, for instance hiking.
  • The price of bad sleep may be poor health. Headaches, dizziness and many other problems.
  • You will be not able to focus and concentrate, so you can put your life into great danger while attending some activities like climbing or kayaking.

not getting enough sleep in camping tent

Sleeping in a tent is a lot of fun, but sometimes sleep can be elusive if the conditions are not right. To avoid bad sleep you only have to combine the right sleeping gear and some helpful sleeping tips that will be provided below.

The Right Sleeping Gear

A good night’s sleep in a tent requires the right sleeping gear to be the same as sleeping in your own bed. These include the following.

Sleeping bag

To get a really good sleep, your sleeping bag should not only be comfortable and clean, but also appropriate for you and the environment. Here are some features that you have to look for when choosing a sleeping bag.

  • Temperature Rating: Look at the temperature ratings to determine the kind of sleeping bag you should get:
    • Summer – 40°F or higher
    • 3-Season( Spring – Fall) – 15°F to 40°F
    • Winter – -10°F to 20°F
    • Polar – -15°F or lower
  • Shapes: There are many shapes of sleeping bags to accommodate your specific needs:
    • Mummy: These are ‘’cocoon’’ sleeping bags. They are very warm, and narrow at the feet in order to increase warmth and reduce the overall weight of the sleeping bag. They can be quite comfortable, but for those who toss and turn in their sleep, this might not be the best choice for them.
    • Barrel: It is a little roomier than the mummy sleeping bag but also bulkier. It is recommended for people who would like a little more room in the shoulders, but still want a lot of warmth.
    • Rectangular: A ‘’large-size’’ sleeping bag that is recommended for warm weather. These are the standard sleeping bags you’ll find everywhere, and if you’re lucky, you could share your bag another person if the zippers are compatible.
  • Insulations: Make sure that the material of the insulation will correspond well with the climate of your surroundings.

sleeping bag couple

Sleeping pad

It is a padded mattress featuring spongy foam. They are great for sleeping on frozen and rough surfaces and they come in three types.

  • Air pad: This type of pad uses air for cushioning so they are extremely portable and lightweight.
  • Self-inflating pad: It is padded with foam and when the valve is open, the air will expand it. It is highly recommended for surfaces with little rocks or rough surfaces.
  • Foam pads: Simple and comfortable pad made of foam, also called ‘’closed cell foam pad’’.

sleeping pad

Earplugs

Make sure that you have a pair of earplugs for blocking all sounds. Many campers, especially newbies, are afraid of every sound they could hear during the night. Howling wolves, foraging bears or squirrels, nature can make a lot of noise! However, a pair of earplugs can help to minimize noise pollution during rest. If you have never used ear plugs before, try them a few nights at home before bringing them on your camping trip.

Flashlight

Having a source of light is very important. Do not forget to have some new batteries if you are going to use it a lot, or bring along a solar flashlight.

Clothing

While you are sleeping you have to wear comfortable and breathable clothes. Depending on the season, choose the right clothing. Avoid bulky clothes and overdressing.

Pillow

The more you can make your sleep while camping comparable to what you are used to at home, the better your chances of waking up feeling like you actually slept. The worst thing to wake up to in the middle of the night is a cramped neck. Some sleeping bags have a pillow pocket but you can bring one from your home.

camping pillow

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

The goal is to be as comfortable as if you were sleeping in your own bed at home. Following these tips, you can make sure that nothing will disturb you.

  • Location: First of all, you have to spend enough time to find a good and quiet place. Away from other tents and as far as you can from the road. Whether you are a light sleeper or you sleep like a rock, sound has the potential to affect your rest and your health. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to turn the tent’s window into the direction of the blowing breeze in order to ventilate it properly.  Moreover, look for a site close to a water source on solid ground, and safe from hazards like falling tree limbs and rocks. Moreover, do not place your tent close to the trees. If your tent is close to trees, there could be noises like tree branch scraps or they can even fall on your tent.
  • Ground: Where you place the tent could impact on your sleep. The ground may have twigs and stones, so you have to clear it before setting up your tent. There is nothing more terrible than lying down on a stone! Even if it is a time consuming procedure, you have to clean the ground properly.
  • Tent internal arrangement: All things in the tent should be well-organized. Put all your gear in the corner if you want to feel comfortable and have enough room for your sleeping bag. However, when it comes to shoes, you have to keep them out of the tent to keep the interior clean.
  • Stay dry: A moldy atmosphere in the tent can make you feel awful. From clothing to shoes and tents, it is important that you unpack them before every camping trip.
  • Drink: Do not drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use. Avoid alcohol. Keep a water bottle next to your sleeping bag, if you get thirsty in the night. If do not want to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you just have to drink little amounts of fluid.
  • Turn off your mobile phone: You are miles away from the world! Life tethered to conveniences of the modern age is a mundane thing for us. Nature offers us a new, exciting perspective on life, so just relax and enjoy the sounds of nature. It is scientifically proven that several sounds called ‘’white sounds’’ like a river can help you sleep better. It’s also a good idea to keep it turned off to preserve the battery in case you need to make an emergency call.
  • Avoid camping in wet or damp areas: Wet and damp areas are often full of all sorts of insects.
  • Go hiking, swimming: If you have an inactive day, you are less likely to feel tired enough to fall asleep quickly once you get into your sleeping bag.

sleeping in a tent outdoor

Stay Warm

Temperature can have a huge impact on how well you sleep while camping. Many campers admit that winter camping can be utterly miserable. To help prevent hypothermia during cool nights, bring adequate bedding and clothing to stay warm.

  1. Wear dry and clean underwear and socks. Pack a pair of thick woolen socks specifically for sleeping in.
  2. Try to wear clothes that are designed to trap heat, not generate it. You have to forget about that cotton T-shirt you wear while summer camping. Woolen, fleece and insulating synthetics are ideal.
  3. Use a good insulating sleeping pad between you and the ground.
  4. Fill a water bottle with hot water before you go to bed and then place it on your feet
  5. Protect your sleeping bag from getting wet at all costs. It will take much longer to dry, and if it’s wet when the sun is down, you’re bound to have a miserable night of sleep.
  6. Keep your nose and mouth outside your sleeping bag and avoid overheating. Your breath contains a great deal of moisture that can cause dampness to collect in the bag as you sleep.
  7. Have a little snack in your tent (well-packed). Digesting food at night will warm you up internally
  8. Exercise a little before sleeping to help you warm up before getting in your sleeping bag. Keep it light; heavy exercise will only increase your heart rate and keep you up longer.
  9. If your sleeping bag has empty spaces, you can stuff it with clothes to increase the insulation.
  10. Use a plastic ground cloth under your tent to help keep you dry.

staying warm in a tent

Safety

Camping is a fun way to get family and friends together to enjoy the outdoors. Safety is also a major concern. Some people might be paranoid at night so they cannot sleep in peace. Follow these tips to help ensure your camping trip is safe and healthy.

Store your food

Wild animals have a well-developed sense of smell and know how to find sustenance, so you have to keep the food away from the tent. Another solution is to store the food in metal boxes or pack foods in tight, waterproof bags or containers. Keep them in an insulated cooler.

food storage in a camping tent

If your clothes accumulated food odors, you have to keep them out too. Remember you are not alone: bears or wolves could become an issue during camping, depending on where you are.

Heat Source

Never use fuel-burning equipment such as lanterns, charcoal grills or gas stoves inside a tent. There is a great danger to get poisoned by carbon monoxide or methane, while you are sleeping.

Wild animals

Avoid touching wild animals, because some of them carry diseases and are extremely dangerous.

Ticks and bugs

Just thinking of these creatures crawling next to you is enough to make you stay awake all night. To help fight the bite, apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin. Check for ticks daily, and remove them promptly. Wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing to help prevent and spot ticks more easily.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy. They can make you really sick. Using insect repellent is the best way to prevent diseases like Zika and Chikungunya that are spread by mosquitoes.

bugs and mosquitoes in tent

Bees and wasps

Keep your eyes peeled to both the ground and overhanging trees before setting up your tent. You should check your tent before lying down. It is impossible to sleep with a bee in your tent, especially if someone is allergic.

Snakes

Snakes, for the most part, are not interested in humans. But that does not mean we should not be aware of them when out in areas where snakes may live. Snakes like to hide out in the dark crevices between rocks, but the ground under your tent is also ideal. However, snakes are usually more afraid of us, but if they feel threatened or if you make sudden movements, they may strike. If you notice a snake, move slowly away from them.

snake in tent

It is always a good idea to keep sleeping bags in your tent or the back of the car while you are out hiking and shake them out well just to make sure you do not cuddle up with any unwanted visitors at night. Camping stores sell a number of snake repellent chemicals you can take with you. These come in either liquid or spray form, and you can use them to create a ring around your campsite.

Weather

Pay attention to weather conditions. It can change very quickly. Be prepared and act in anticipation of severe weather.

Communication

Ensure you have some form of communication. If you are in an area with no mobile reception, try to source another form of communication or at least let someone know your movements.

Fire safety

  • Never build a fire near tents or flammable items
  • Avoid flammable fluids to start a fire. You can use matches
  • Make sure to completely extinguish fire by kicking dirt onto hot coals. Never leave fire unattended

fire safety when camping

Final Thoughts

A camping trip should be a unique experience for you and your friends. Do not let anything to disturb these wonderful moments. Try to disconnect and forget about the chores of daily life.

Do you have any helpful tips? Please share your stories with us in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Bayne
Jessica Bayne

Jessica believes that the only things you need to explore the world are a good backpack and a bit of courage to make the first steps. She also loves the beauty of a sunset seen from the mountaintop and the delicious flavor of a meal prepped over the camping fire. Ready to start a new adventure at any given time, Jessica knows how to be prepared for any situation and understands how important is to find the right gear. She also knows a lot about the type of gear to have and how to choose the products you actually need.

  • Liam Lewis

    Thank you for this wonderful article Jessica. It is very informative. I am not a newbie myself but I really got some important points from this which I will remember the next time I go camping. I have also shared this to my friend who has an upcoming trip. Kudos to you!

    • Jessica Bayne

      Thanks for the kindness!

  • Ernest Cole

    I have always loved your articles because they are simple, but very helpful especially for those who love to go on hiking and camping trips. I am glad you mentioned snakes because I am not really fond of them. I can still remember we found one in our tent and I was so afraid of it.

    • Jessica Bayne

      Thank you so much!

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