Summit camping trips are like pregnancy. You tend to forget about the pain you suffered and only remember the end result. One of the toughest parts of a trip is often the first night’s sleep on the trail. Your body is not use to the changes. The altitude, outside noise and unforgiving ground offer you no solace compared to your comfy bed.
Rest assured fellow trail companions. There is hope. Allow me to share with you some of the best tips scoured from hiking blogs and trip reports…as well as personal experience from a tried and true insomniac (me). The first few tips should be common sense, but are worth mentioning.
1. Get a good meal. Carb-up for before you crawl into your sleeping bag. When your body is busy digesting, it makes you sleepy. Don’t worry, you’ll burn it off the next day.
2. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. The extra hydration keeps your system operating smoothly and helps prevent headaches.
3. Keep warm. I can vividly remember the nights I lay awake, shivering because I didn’t pack the right rated sleeping bag and clothing.
4. Mimic your regular bed. Try to get the sleeping pad and pillow to the same firmness that you experience at home. I like to pack my clothes in my sleeping bag bag for a DIY pillow. I stretch a t-shirt over it and it feels just like home.
Here are some tips I found helpful from experts that have logged many a starry night.
5. Wear ear plugs. Outdoors can be filled with lots of noise you might not be used to, from crickets to baying animals to the torrential downpour that sounds like a freight train is outside your tent flap. This will give your body fewer distractions and keep you in REM sleep.
6. Take some melatonin. This all natural remedy will help you fall asleep. Many complain it won’t keep you asleep, which is true. However, it is a better alternative than sleeping aids like Lunesta or Tylenol PM that can give you a sleep hang-over in the morning.
7. Rest up before your trip. Try to log some extra hours in the days preceding your trip. Your body could use the healing sleep and it will give you a little advantage when you can’t sleep as much on the trail.
8. Try on a Breathe-Right strip. If you are suffering from allergies or having trouble breathing, these little miracle strips will allow you to breathe better. Even if you are not congested, when you’re dealing with less oxygen above 10,000 feet, these strips can make your sleep more restful. In many cases it helps stop snoring…so you may want to bring some for your camp mates too.
9. Get some mild exercise. For those weekend warriors, much of the time spent getting to the trail is being confined in a plane and/or car. Be sure to get your blood flowing with a nice hike before you settle down in camp.
10. Avoid screen time. You know who you are. You bought the solar charger so you can stare at your smartphone and have endless entertainment options. Umm…try not to do that. If circumstances permit, stare at a crackling fire instead. For some reason, since the dawn of humanity, when cavemen and cavewomen congregated around the all-important glow of life, the fire is the best way to wind you down. A surefire way to get you ready for the land of nod.