How to Sleep Well While Camping

A night in the great outdoors should be relaxing, not uncomfortable. Try these tricks for getting your sleep under the starry sky.

Spending a night under the stars can be a beautiful experience—but only if you’re actually able to fall asleep. And that’s easier said than done: Getting comfortable on the ground instead of a plush mattress, blocking out weird sounds all around you, and dealing with no temperature control isn’t easy. But don’t call it quits just yet! Follow these tips to help you sleep soundly on your next camping trip.

Add Padding
Set yourself up for overnight success by putting something soft between you and the hard ground. Camping supply stores sell lightweight, compactable sleeping pads that provide cushioning in one of three ways: Air-filled, foam-filled or self-inflating (a combination of air and foam). The pads come in varying degrees of thickness depending on your priorities (thicker means softer, slimmer means easier to transport). Remove any rocks or sticks before placing the cushioning down on the ground for a smoother, even surface.

Focus on Warmth
Regulating the temperature of your environment is tough without the sophisticated heat and air conditioning units you have at home. Check out the forecast—especially the nightly low temps—when you’re planning your adventure, then look for a sleeping bag that is designed to handle those conditions. (Most sleeping bags come with a label that gives a temperature range in which they are designed to work best.) Sleeping bags come in different shapes (some fit more snugly to keep body heat in on extra cold nights) and filling options (some have goose down while others are synthetic).

Support Your Head
Maintaining a similar sleep posture to the way you lie in your bed at home may help you feel more relaxed. If you’re driving to a campsite, consider bringing a pillow from home. If you’re hiking to your overnight spot, you might prefer bringing a more portable small foam pillow that can be purchased at a camping goods store.

Block Out Distractions
Lastly, don’t forget to tuck a pair of earplugs and an eye mask into your pack. They can help you sleep through an early morning sunrise and a snoring pal in the tent besides you (or rustling leaves that will make you imagination run wild).

And if possible, do as much of your normal pre-bed routine as possible. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and read a little—these actions signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep soon.