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Expert Guide to Sleeping Under the Stars

Expert Guide to Sleeping Under the Stars
16 April 2023 Samantha Anderson

With bank holiday weekends, spring half term and summer on the horizon, TEMPUR® sleep specialist shares guide to enjoying a restorative night’s sleep while camping this spring and beyond.

Camping has long been a popular British holiday option, and now that spring has landed the weather is (hopefully!) warming up, and summer’s not too far off, many will be considering heading off on a camping trip with loved ones. That said, sleeping in a new environment and one that likely isn’t as comfortable as your bedroom, comes with a whole set of challenges.

TEMPUR® sleep specialist & sleep counsellor, Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, says: “Camping is a great way to fully enjoy the outdoors, spend time in nature and have quality time with loved ones, yet I so often hear people complain about how it negatively impacts their sleep (and by default, their general disposition!). It really doesn’t have to be this way though.

“From unfamiliar noises and too much light, to feeling too hot, too cold or disgruntled from uncomfortable bedding, there are some surprisingly straightforward solutions to common camping complaints. It just takes a bit of forward thinking.

“Sleeping under the stars is something that everyone can and should enjoy.”

Read on for Thomas’ guide to getting a good night’s sleep while camping this spring/summer…

Make the space as comfortable as possible

Just because you’re sleeping outdoors, doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.

If you’re camping with kids, opt for a tent with multiple ‘pods’ so that you won’t disturb them by getting into bed later. Alternatively, if you have teens, consider letting them sleep in their own tent nearby so that you aren’t disturbed by them!

An air bed or even a mattress topper can mean the difference between sleeping in comfort or waking up with aches and pains. If you’re a cold sleeper, a high tog sleeping bag is ideal, though if you struggle with feeling too warm, a lighter duvet topped with blankets that you can easily throw off in the night is best.

And don’t forget about a sleep promoting ambience – battery powered fairy lights as opposed to bright torch light, sleep inducing pillow spray spritzed over your bedding, and a soothing playlist will all help to create a beautiful sleep sanctuary.

Keep to your regular sleep schedule

Whilst sleeping outdoors and being more in tune with sunrise and sunset can work to reset your internal body clock (aka circadian rhythm), going to sleep when it’s dark and waking when it’s light, especially with the long midsummer days – can make it much harder to return to your usual sleep-wake cycle once you return home.

Keeping as close as possible to your regular sleep schedule – particularly where children are concerned – maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and helps you to fall asleep and wake more easily. As such, it’s best to invest in a quality eye mask to block out the early morning light and make it easier to stick to your regular sleep-wake times.

Sleeping outdoors will likely mean you’re exposed to a cacophony of sounds – noisy animals or insects, the rustling of leaves, chatty neighbours, and that’s all before the dawn chorus, most notable in spring. So ear plugs are another worthwhile piece of kit to pack for all the family.

Some night-time essentials

Whilst not essential for a good night’s sleep, there are a few items that will make your night much more comfortable and minimise night-time disruptions.

There’s nothing worse than needing the toilet in the middle of the night – especially if you’re camping and can’t find a torch or a pair of shoes! So, make life easier for yourself and keep a headtorch, slip on shoes and a raincoat close to the door of the tent, just in case. If you really hate the night-time stumbles to the loo, a camping toilet can make life much easier so is a worthwhile consideration – especially if you have kids in tow.

Similarly, you don’t want to trek across a campsite in darkness in order to quench your thirst, so keep a bottle of water close by in case you or a camp mate gets thirsty.

Get back to nature

One of the best parts of any camping trip is being immersed in nature, away from the day-to-day pressures of modern life, so make the most of it.

You may not even realise you’re stressed, but tension in the body caused by stress, can make it difficult to sleep. Spending the day enjoying some nature-therapy is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life and can quickly help to purge stresses.

A forest walk, stargazing, roasting marshmallows around the campfire, and simply spending quality time with loved ones are all brilliant ways to relax and reset. And you’ll reap the rewards come bedtime.

What to do if you can’t sleep

Sleeping in a new environment can be tricky at the best of times, so make sure you’ve got an eReader or headphones nearby. That way you can listen to a podcast or read a favourite novel without disturbing sleeping tent-mates.

Both of these activities can help distract you from the thoughts that are likely preventing you from falling asleep. Just make sure that you’re not reading or listening to anything too stimulating as you want to encourage sleep, not rouse your brain further.

And don’t be put off by poor weather conditions, simply relocate!

One thing no-one can control is the weather… If you’re camping trip is postponed due to poor weather conditions, consider creating an ‘at-home’ camping experience. Kids will love the novelty of building an indoor den for the whole family to sleep in.

Or if you’re more into glamping than camping, consider a campervan trip which can go ahead as planned no matter the weather forecast. Modern campervans come with all the everyday luxuries you could want – mobile WiFi, integrated satellite navigation, full kitchen and bathroom facilities, and, crucially, comfy beds.

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