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Ten Tips for a Great Night's Rest in the Backcountry

Posted by Loren Drummond at Jul 11, 2013 09:05 AM |
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From hot water bottles to white noise, aromatherapy to special socks, here are 10 great ways to sleep better when you're camping or backpacking.

Last month, Washington Trails Association was flooded with entries in our Therm-a-Rest “Great Night’s Rest” contest. After much review and internal debate over the 300+ funny, smart and thoughtful entries, we selected the best three responses as the winners, which earned their creators a Therm-a-Rest Antares 3-season down sleeping bag and NeoAir all-season mattress.

But with so many fantastic entries, we didn’t want to stop at just three, so here we present the winners, plus seven more notable entries, to make it the top ten ways to get a great night’s rest in the backcountry.

We've even field-tested most of these—to snoring success.

Winning tips for a great night's sleep

1. Best Bedtime Combo

Boil water and fill two Nalgene bottles. Insert bottles into two clean wool socks. Wrap the bottles in a lightweight set of clean sleep clothing, then insert all into your sleeping bag. At bedtime, slip into toasty warm clothes and cuddle with warm water bottles. — Jennifer Kelty

2. Aromatherapy

Keep a small mesh bag of dried lavender in your sleeping bag, and under your pillow at bedtime. Lavender is an effective treatment for insomnia—and a natural insect repellent! — JB Robinson

3. Water White Noise Works Wonders

Set up camp next to a stream or river (practicing proper LNT etiquette). The soothing sounds of running water will lull you right to sleep. — Bruce Englund


4. Keep It Clean

Wipe down your body to get as much sweat and grime off, then slip into a set of clean sleeping clothes. — Ayako Okuyama

5. In the Spirit

Good whiskey! — Katie Royce

6. Cuddle With Your Pal

Sleep next to your dog. He’ll keep you warm, and alert you to bears and other animals. — Scott Button

Sleepy Pup in Tent (no logo)
Sleepy pup in a tent in the Pasayten Wilderness. Photo by Brent Williams

7. Tent Zen

Once comfortable in your sleeping bag, take seven deep, slow breaths. With each breath, recall a beautiful scene viewed earlier that day. This will induce a tranquil, dreamlike mood leading to a peaceful sleep. — Barney Hope

8. Bedtime Story

Take along a favorite novel. In your bag, read a few pages by head lamp and drift right off. — Sara Jaye Sanford

9. Sleeping-Only Socks

Indulge in a pair of luxurious snuggly socks and take along for sleepy time. At bedtime, clean your feet and slip into your plush socks for a comfy treat after long days on trail. — Emily Baldwin

10. Tea Time

Sip a cup of hot green tea about an hour before bedtime to help warm you up and soothe you to sleep. — Harry Schueler

Taking in a view, boots up
Reflecting on the highlights of the day is a great way to unwind. Photo from the Ridge above Tapto Lakes and Whatcom Pass. by Buff Black