The best thing about being out on the road can also be the worst: leaving the familiar comforts of home. For many, this means sleepless nights tossing around in a trailer or tent and counting down the days until you’re back in your own bed.

It doesn’t have to be that way. A good night’s sleep while camping is absolutely possible. Follow the following tips and then lay down your pretty head and saunter off to dreamland.

  • It’s a mental game: Part of what makes sleeping far from home challenging is lying down among new and unfamiliar surroundings. Sounds, sights and smells are completely different from your bedroom, which puts your mind on alert. So prepare yourself mentally before you leave home. Think through the various new nighttime sensations you’ll be experiencing and be ready to embrace them as part of a new experience.
  • Find the right place: Chances are the campsite is going to be busy. So plan enough time to get to the site early enough that you can scope out a good site – one that’s a little secluded and set apart from other campsites, and far from the entrance (so you don’t hear vehicles coming and going all night). You should also try and set up at the opposite end of the site from the office, headquarters or ranger station. This will help keep people noise to a minimum.
  • Create your environment: As much as is possible, run yourself through the same nighttime routines in camp that you keep at home. It’s what your brain and body are accustomed to and they’ll begin to shut down just like they do at home. And remember, it’s going to be colder in your campsite than it is in your bedroom. So dress for bed warmly.
  • You can sleep sound(less)ly: It will be noisy at night, even if you’re alone in your campground. The forest is an active, living place, particularly at night. If you’re worried your mental game won’t completely prepare you for nocturnal chirping and scratching, set up camp near a creek or river – if possible. The running water makes great white noise and can drown out other sounds. If that’s not a possibility, earplugs work wonderfully.
  • Be active: The best way to prepare for a good night’s sleep is to wear yourself out during the day hiking, exploring, playing, swimming, climbing, running, sightseeing and eating. When you get back to camp, you’ll be ready to hit the sack.
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