You’d think a hard day of hiking would be enough for you to fall asleep quickly and easily. But for some, especially those new to the world of backpacking and backcountry sleeping, getting a good night’s sleep is harder to come by.
Before you give up on backpacking and say that sleeping in the wild isn’t for you, you should know that a variety of outside factors can be to blame. Light from a not fully set sun, a bright moon, and wilderness noises (they’re not always relaxing!), can all disrupt your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep when backpacking. Let’s look at some common sleeping difficulties and ways to remedy them.
Senses Overload Is Preventing Good Sleep
A too bright or too loud environment can keep you awake. If you’re bothered by sounds in the backcountry, try using a pair of earplugs to silence your surroundings. To block out unwanted light, you can bring a sleep mask or tie a bandana over your eyes.
You’re not comfortable
Try a pillow. With pillows as light as 2 ounces, there’s no reason not to try one out if you’re struggling to get comfortable at night. Sometimes a stuff sack of clothing just doesn’t cut it.
You Hike Too Close to Bedtime
Don’t hike all the way up until you go to bed. Exercise gives you energy by releasing cortisol. Too much exercise too close to bedtime can do more harm than good in your quest for better backpacking sleep. Try stopping a few hours before you want to go to bed.
Changes in Sleep Schedule
It’s hard to adjust your body to a different sleep schedule. While it’s not always possible to use your exact bedtime every time, the closer you are to your normal bedtime, the easier it may be to fall asleep. Try going to sleep as close to your normal bedtime as possible.
A snack before bed can help you sleep warmer, but a full stomach can disrupt your sleep. Try eating dinner right before you’re done hiking for the day, assuming you’ll be done hiking a few hours before bedtime that is.
There are a lot of things that can be affecting this. To learn what you can do to sleep warmer while backpacking, read my article How to Sleep Warm When Backpacking and Camping.
It’s Too Hot to Sleep
I sleep with a fan on at home. It’s so hard to fall asleep when it’s warm. There’s a number of ways you can help lower the temperature and sleep better in hot weather. Check out Cooling Tips for Backpacking and Camping in Hot Weather.
Maybe a Tent is Not For You
Last but not least, if you absolutely can not get comfortable in a tent, give hammock camping a try! The feeling is unlike any other. Plus- there’s no sleeping on the ground or accidently pitching your tent on a rock or acorn.
I have an in depth article about getting started with hammock camping, find it here.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to your backpacking trip. It can take some time to adjust to being in the wild. Try some of these tips and see if you’re more comfortable out there.
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