A Guide to Sleeping Under the Stars
TEMPUR experts’ top tips on sleeping out of doors if you can’t travel abroad this summer.
There is nothing quite like sleeping outdoors under the stars and it’s especially exciting for children. With travel abroad remaining uncertain for the foreseeable, camping or glamping at a UK beauty spot or even just in your own garden, is a novel way to spend an evening and create lasting memories.
Here, sleep experts at TEMPUR® have created a how-to guide to sleeping under the stars, with handy tips on how to be weather-ready, how to use natural daylight and nightfall to reset circadian rhythms, and how to settle down to sleep in new surroundings.
Read on for the full tips.
Reset circadian rhythms
For thousands of years, humans went to sleep when it was dark and woke when it was light. Thanks to electricity and technology, we no longer need to stick to these timings, however this has left our internal body clock, known as our circadian rhythm, out of sync.
Falling asleep as darkness falls and waking with the sunrise helps to re-establish our natural circadian rhythms. Those with insomnia and other sleep disorders could well benefit from a night or two sleeping under the stars.
Without blackout blinds or curtains, you will find a tent or campervan is brighter in the mornings, meaning you may wake up earlier than usual. An eye mask is an easy way to prevent the morning light waking you early, and earplugs can help block out noises. However, we’d encourage you to embrace the light and wake up naturally to make the most of the day.
Sleeping in a new place is exciting, but it can also disrupt our usual sleep patterns. Balance this out by bringing some sleep essentials to help you get quality rest. A supportive pillow is key to getting a good night’s sleep, so pack a travel pillow, which is more compact and easier to transport. Keep it handy while on the move too; little ones may want to nap during journeys or as soon as you arrive somewhere.
Sleeping bags, groundsheets, and a camp bed or inflatable layer to sleep on make all the difference to sleep quality. Ensure the ground where you put your tent is flat, as bumpy ground will likely prevent you from sleeping well. Unpack and shake out your sleeping bag as soon as possible to allow it to unfurl and fluff up – this’ll make it warmer and cosier come bedtime. You could also add fairy lights to your tent or campervan for added cosiness.
Be active in the day & eat well
Make the most of the fresh air and keep active during the day as this will help tire you out ahead of bedtime (especially handy if you have little ones). Walking, hiking or cycling are all great ways to get exercise in whilst also exploring your surroundings.
Keep hydrated (even if you don’t feel thirsty), as this will help you recover better and relax ahead of going to sleep. Remember that vigorous exercise means you’ll be hungrier than usual, so ensure you have plenty of nourishing snacks and proper meals throughout the day to stave off any night-time cravings.
Have fun with camping food as well – you could roast foil-wrapped bananas with chocolate chips and nuts for a warming bedtime treat. Bananas and nuts both contain magnesium, an essential sleep-inducing mineral.
Rather than go for the usual burgers and sausages on the BBQ, why not try locally sourced grilled fish or veggie options? And balance out healthy and nourishing food with the occasional holiday indulgence; marshmallows roasted on the fire make a great after-dinner treat.
Accept you will need some tech
Do try to stay off phones and screens if you can but accept that you will likely need some tech to make your overnight stay more comfortable. A clip-on reading light or night light is useful for bedtime reading or to soothe nervous sleepers. Wireless speakers are great for music or to play a bedtime story. And why not treat the kids to the occasional ‘movie night’ in the tent or campervan using the iPad?
If you’re lucky enough to be somewhere rural, try a spot of stargazing and make the most of the natural darkness, as light pollution from our houses, cars and roads prevents us from being able to see the stars at their best when at home. The naked eye can make out around 2-3,000 stars, but for an extra special experience bring a telescope – you may even spot a shooting star!
After a full-on day exploring, a wind-down routine is useful to help everyone feel ready for sleep. Excited children will benefit from a song or story round the firepit and a mug of cocoa before climbing into the tent or campervan feeling cosy and cocooned. If possible, try to stick to children’s usual bedtimes so they are not too tired the following morning and to prevent disrupting their routine too much. A favourite toy or blanket from home provides a sense of comfort and familiarity for kids (and dogs), so do bring along any treasured sleep companions to help them drift off.
Be ready for changing weather
Tents can get warm and stuffy but can also get cold if the weather turns. Make sure you have layers (cosy jumpers or lightweight fleeces, breathable cotton PJs, plenty of pairs of dry socks) ready to wrap up or remove accordingly. A hat to keep you warm if the temperature drops at night is a handy addition that can be overlooked in the summer months.
If wet weather is on the cards, make sure the space is water-proofed and keep clothes in waterproof bags. A groundsheet is a must to prevent damp sleeping bags.
For hot weather, have an ice box to keep food and drinks cool, and it’s worth adding a gazebo for shade or rain cover. Pack cotton pjs as they help wick away sweat and are more breathable compared to synthetic materials which can feel warm.
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