Stuff Ya Gotta Have: A Good Night’s Sleep
What a day! You’ve spent it swimming in the pool, playing Frisbee, taking a hike and, of course, exploring the KOA campground you’ll be calling home for a few days. You haven’t had that much fun in a long, long, long time and you are both happy and exhausted. So you climb into the comfort of your sleeping bag or RV bed, close your eyes and…nothing.
Sleep can be elusive whenever you’re in an unfamiliar place, hearing unfamiliar noises and doing things that are outside the scope of your daily routine. So finding ways to help lull yourself into a peaceful night’s rest is something that you should plan for ahead of time.
First, try to stick to your evening routine as much as possible. If you take an evening shower or enjoy a cup of tea before bed at home, there’s no reason not to do the same thing at your favorite KOA, where warm water and comfortable facilities are easy to come by. Change into sweats or pajamas that are clean, warm and dry—you’d be surprised at how much it can instantly relax you. (Check out these great Merino wool base layers—perfect for catching some Z’s—from Cabela’s.) And consider bringing a few choice CD’s (with headphones, if you’re tent camping) to help you unwind.
Second, make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Even in warm climates, nighttime temperatures can leave you shivering. Think layers—both on your body and in your bed or sleeping bag, and look to breathable fabrics to help keep air circulating. Outdoor retailers like REI carry sleeping bag liners in a variety of fabrics can be used on their own in hot climates, as an additional layer on cool nights and some even have wicking properties that help to keep you dry. Portable fans, that use magnets to clip on to your tent, are available, as are portable heaters. Be sure, however, to use both in well-ventilated areas and according to manufacturer instructions.
Third, bring a comfortable pillow. Simple? Yes. Critical? Absolutely. Although many campers opt not to bring their bed pillow to the campground, finding one that’s the same (or at least very similar) will help you get a better night’s sleep. Many pillows made specifically for camping are smaller than traditional pillows, may not be as heavy and may not give you the support you need for maximum relaxation.
Last, put your mind at ease by thinking ahead. Put flip-flops and a flashlight (we like this one, from Maglite) near your pillow in case you need to get up during the night. Make sure you can reach a hat, bottle of water and gloves. Consider putting your coat in your bed or sleeping bag so that it’s warm when you get up in the morning. Taking these small steps can give you a certain sense of comfort and security by helping you to know that you’re prepared.