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I don't sleep well when camping...
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Talbot Hardman

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Tryptophan Supplement on 05/02/2011 16:50:54 MDT Print View

To all the great advice, I also wanted to add that I started taking a couple tryptophan supplements before sack time on my hut trips in the winter because 16 snoring guys and sleeping at 11,000 feet typically resulted in insomnia or restless sleep. It worked so well that I now always have a couple capsules in my first aid kit when I'm backpacking. The first night of a trip I always take one and it usually keeps me from waking up. Plus you don't get that drugged feeling that accompanies Tylenol PM.


Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
I am a side sleeper and sleep well on 05/02/2011 20:05:46 MDT Print View

If you are a side sleeper like I am you need something like the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. The inflation of it results in about a 2" depth of the pad, and the greater volume of confined air means your hip or shoulder are not crushing the ground as it does when sleeping on a foam pad or a pad with minimal inflation.

If I don't sleep well while camping, it's not a result of discomfort.

Matthew Black
(mtblack) - F
Melatonin on 05/02/2011 20:42:24 MDT Print View

Melatonin works great for me. It effective enough to help you drop off in a bear trampled campground or when the moon is as bright as a spotlight shining directly in your face and doesn't leave me feeling logy in the morning.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
exped on 05/02/2011 20:54:03 MDT Print View

The exped mats are pretty tough to beat for comfort I have a synmat 7 on the other hand they are very easy to beat for weight I am trying different pad combos now but it sounds like you need big cushy or the tree tent. I would try the drugs... but not in bear counntryand more so not in habituated bear country

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Mattress inflation on 05/02/2011 21:08:08 MDT Print View

I am a wus and sleep just fine in the woods. This is how I do it: Take a cushy air mat about 3 inches thick, cut a Ridgerest to 18"x20", stick that beneath the mat under the hip area, lie down on inflated mattress (side sleeper) and bleed air until your hip makes firm contact with the RidgeRest. Your shoulder should still be off the ground.

Note that if your mattress has enough air (and pressure) to hold your rear off the ground it will be too hard at the shoulder and you won't get much support along your spine.

Also, having your hip in contact with the ground mostly eliminates that falling off the mat feeling.

In the winter I use the full 48" Ridgerest to keep my shoulder from getting cold.

Give it a try, if this doesn't help do a couple shots and retry- repeat as necessary.


Edited by DavidAdair on 05/02/2011 21:12:01 MDT.

Paul Brown
(paulbrown137) - F

Locale: norcal
inflation on 05/03/2011 17:42:45 MDT Print View

try less inflation of your kooka pad before you sell it for something thinner and harder

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Great advice about underinflating your air pad on 05/03/2011 18:00:19 MDT Print View

Great point David, I only recently learned the valuable tip of bleeding some air from my pad until my hip just touched. Such a great technique to allow the air mattress to actually conform properly to your spine and eliminate the feeling that you going to rolloff the pad. Much better.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: inflation on 05/03/2011 18:08:59 MDT Print View

Less inflation makes the pad more comfy, but can reduce insulative value. Finding a happy medium is key.

Some dabs/dots/strips of silicone sealant are often times helpful to reduce the slippery feel of an air mat. If you sleep in a quilt this becomes a non-issue because you lay directly on the mat rather than the slippery sleeping bag material sitting on top of it.

Benadryl is a really great trick too. Often times if I'm spending 24/7 outside, my sinuses that are used to spending all day in a filtered air office are unhappy by bedtime anyway, so the benadryl both opens my nasal passages, and knocks me the heck OUT. As long is it's not extraordinarily cold, noisy (bugs, animals, people, weather) or otherwise, it can be pretty easy to sleep much much better.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Neo air wide and a flask on 05/03/2011 20:02:08 MDT Print View

The pad is comfy and the flask helps with the tossing and turning. Bring pure grain to stay UL

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Extra thick air matress on 05/03/2011 20:14:41 MDT Print View

If you start with an extra thick air mattress like a Kooka Bay 3.5" or Exped Downmat 9, you can partially deflate the mat without losing it's insulating value.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Extra thick air matress on 05/03/2011 21:39:45 MDT Print View

> If you start with an extra thick air mattress like a Kooka Bay 3.5" or Exped Downmat
> 9, you can partially deflate the mat without losing it's insulating value.

Correction: without losing ALL of its insulating value.
Check what happens at


Jeffrey McConnell
from benadryl to a hammock on 05/03/2011 23:39:18 MDT Print View

Benadryl has been my friend for a long time. I have bad allergies, so I always bring it along and it helps ensure I get a good night of sleep. I recently switched to the hammock setup and now I sleep like a baby. I wouldn't need the benadryl if it weren't for those allergies. It made a huge difference and it's not too hard to get a light set up.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
problem solved on 05/04/2011 05:50:54 MDT Print View

bridge hammock is for back sleepers, gathered ends for side sleepers. get a hammock, problem solved. Recommendations: Grizz bridge or warbonnet blackbird.

Joey Dawson
(inabag) - F

Locale: Northern VA
Thanks for the advice... on 05/04/2011 07:32:43 MDT Print View

Pretty funny how often drugs and alcohol are suggested :)

I am going to pick up a ProLite Plus and see how that works, and I am seriously considering a Blackbird hammock as well. I have a feeling I will end up with both, and maybe some booze.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
I don't sleep well when camping... on 05/04/2011 08:26:49 MDT Print View

Never mind

Edited by skinewmexico on 05/04/2011 08:27:30 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Prolite plus on 05/04/2011 09:14:10 MDT Print View

If width is the issue the prolite plus may be the ticket but IMNHO 1 1/2" is not that cushy unless you can find a soft spot to put it on maybe a wider thicker insulated air mat would be best nobody likes extra weight but if you are sleeping to bad its mostlikely worth the weight

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
I don't sleep well when camping.. on 05/04/2011 12:47:21 MDT Print View

Over the years, as my pads have become too thin (ha ha), I have switched to increasingly thicker pads. My POE insulated air pad (the old Insulmat Max Thermo) at 2.5" thick has become borderline, so I have ordered a 3.5" thick Climashield Apex insulated air pad from Bender of Kooka Bay. I'm really looking forward to comfort this summer! Its estimated weight is 4 oz. less than my current POE pad, even though it's longer and warmer.

You do want your air pad squishy, not firm. I try to adjust mine so that, when I'm on my side, my hip and shoulder sink down in and my spine is parallel to the ground. Roger is right in that the insulation is less effective when the mat is only partially inflated. With the extra inch thickness on the Kooka Bay pad, I expect to have better insulation than with the 2.5" thick POE pad on which my hip is just barely off the ground and feeling the cold come through.

Don't give up your Kooka Bay pad until you've tried it only about 1/2 to 2/3 inflated!

IMHO, a good night's sleep is worth almost any expenditure or weight!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/04/2011 12:53:11 MDT.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Down mat on 05/04/2011 13:45:26 MDT Print View

I was using either a short or regular length 20" wide exped DM7 year round with great success, but recently moved to a wider pad at 24". This made all the difference for me, particularly now I am a quilt user year round. I too have a Kookabay down filled mattress (24"x60") and really like it. Too much air and it's pretty bouncy, but 60-70% full and it's side sleeping heaven.

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Re: I don't sleep well when camping... on 05/04/2011 16:30:27 MDT Print View

I was doing the same sort of searches a couple years ago here myself. I had always slept really good while on the trail and I can pass out in seconds at home. But then I started to have a lot of trouble getting to sleep on my Thermarest. Tossed and turned and could never get a decent nights sleep. When I would finally get up in the morning I was sore and stiff and it basically was ruining my trips. Looking for a solution lead me to hammocks, I have not slept on the ground since...who would really want to...As one of the guys at Hammock forums says "we pee on the ground." ;) Now when on the trail I fall asleep as easy as at home. I get a full nights sleep wake up with the sun refreshed and feeling like I never hiked the day before. No aches and pains, I'm not sore and I can be ready to hit the trail faster than I ever could with my groundling gear.

It's not for everyone and I'm not going to say that it's some sort of magic solution to camping. But for me, I would rather sleep in my hammock than my crazy expensive bed. last fall I hosted a group get together and hike and got to spend 7 nights hiking and hanging and I felt better from that week of sleep than any I can remember. My hammock set up weighs less than my ground set up did, though has slightly greater bulk...I can fit all my gear into a med. Golite food for the hammock set up(just fills it), 1 days worth for the ground set not a big jump in bulk but a little. If I were to go with a more compact hammock than the Black Bird it would be equal. The difference is a full nights restful sleep.

Good luck on your search for a nights rest on the trail.