Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Sleep aids
Display Avatars Sort By:
Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
Sleep aids on 02/07/2014 10:39:49 MST Print View

After trying many sleeping pads, shelters and bags/quilts, I've found it impossible to sleep for more than a few hours when on the trail. When at home, 2 beers a night (never more, occasionally less), on the trail no alcohol because these are usually boy scout outings. No sleep problems at home.

I'm looking for suggestions for non-prescription sleep aids that won't totally kick my butt. I still need to be able to wake up if a scout has a problem. I guess some form of alcohol would also be ok as long as it was easily masked. I'm a beer expert only. When I go without scouts a little cheap cab does the job.

Anybody have some free advice?


Nathan Coleman
RE on 02/07/2014 10:42:19 MST Print View

Earplugs make a big difference for me if I have trouble sleeping. If I can't sleep it's usually all the strange noises that are keeping me up.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
re: Sleep aids on 02/07/2014 10:50:13 MST Print View

How about 1-2 over-the-counter Benedryl (diphenhydramide HCL 25 mg)? Antihistamines make most people a bit drowsy. On my first couple of nights in griz country, I tend to not sleep very well. I find that one tablet lets me go to sleep easily, and 2 will allow me to sleep through the night. No morning grogginess. But they can tend to dry out your mouth, so be sure to do the good oral hygiene thing before bed.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 02/07/2014 12:04:46 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: re: Sleep aids on 02/07/2014 11:07:39 MST Print View

Hi Rick,

I have the same problem. Oftentimes people will offer the advice of "Hike it out of your system" (read hike 'till you drop) but I find that I get some of my worst sleep on my longest/toughest days. This was never a problem in my 20s (didn't backpack much in my 30s).

A couple things, if you take NSAIDs to keep the swelling down when backpacking, make sure they don't have caffeine in them.

I have allergies and have to take medicine to help with the snot rocket express, watery eyes, etc so taking Benadryl at night for me makes sense. It used to put me in a coma but I suspect that they've changed the recipe to stay competitive with other drugs which are non-drowsy; when I take it now, I don't get quality sleep. The good news is diphenhydramine is also marketed as a sleep aid so I buy those pills instead and enjoy restful sleep and with the added bonus that it takes the edge off of my allergies. Drink an extra pint of water in the morning if you do this.

If you're interested in something more natural, try Melatonin.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/07/2014 11:08:29 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Ear plugs on 02/07/2014 11:28:29 MST Print View

Another vote for ear plugs.

I'd also strongly advise on seeing a specialist because having to drink alcohol to sleep is not good.
Not only do you sleep as good it's dangerous ground psychologically.

Speaking from experience it's amazing how small things tend to add up.
Cutting out caffeine after 14:00 everyday helped me a little, also cut out all carbonated drinks, no Cola, fanta etc.

Regular meal times helped slightly as did not eating after 20:00.

Biggest help for me though was regular exercise (helped dramatically reduce my stress levels) and regular consistent bedtimes, tough with my job but i tend to stick to it when i can.

As i say though i would strongly advice to seek the help of a professional to help get to the bottom of the problem, chances are lots of little things will help.
Takes a bit of dedication but having a good alcohol free nights sleep is well worth it.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sleep aids on 02/07/2014 11:40:20 MST Print View

Either 3mg or 5mg melatonin pills.


. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 02/07/2014 11:46:35 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/02/2015 11:10:17 MDT.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Does alcohol even help? on 02/07/2014 12:00:06 MST Print View

And the physicians and PhDs argue that the regular nightcap doesn't actually help you sleep; it does the opposite.

"...alcohol makes it hard for you to stay asleep and sleep well....research suggests that it loses any benefit as a sleep aid within just a few days... a few nights of regular imbibing, your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol's effects.... Hours later, when your body has mostly metabolized the alcohol, your sleep becomes fragmented, and you're prone to frequent wakings..."

If you carry an ipod/iphone/mp3 player, you might try one of the many available trance tracks available for inducing sleep. I tried one for several weeks and it (1) made me very sleepy and (2) gave me unusually peaceful sleep.

I can't explain it, except that it changed the nature of the thoughts I had before going to sleep. With the track, my thoughts were not my usual review of the day and preparation for tomorrow (which is actually bad stuff to think about in bed). Instead, my thoughts followed the random and illogical wanderings of the trance tape, and post-trance dreams were innocuous and peaceful.

That said, what I actually use on the trail is Zyrtec, which helps cut the dust allergies I have, and also makes me sleepy. Zyrtec doesn't do anything for my wife so it must be an individual thing.

Edited by Bolster on 02/07/2014 12:11:11 MST.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 02/07/2014 12:29:13 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/02/2015 11:10:50 MDT.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
thanks on 02/07/2014 13:53:49 MST Print View

I'll try the melatonin and benadryl or related chemicals, seperately of course. My first aid kit has generic antihistimine in it, it gets used more than band-aids by the boys. I wonder if the same chemicals are in Nyquil? Nyquil shooters after dinner?

I've tried the beanie over the ears and find earplugs uncomfortable. Changing things at home re:alcohol isn't terribly appealing either. I'm old enough to know I'm crazy and swearing off beer wouldn't change that. I have what most people would consider a stressful job but 99.9% of the time it's left at the office, it never goes on the trail. Never have caffiene after breakfast either, assume my decaf earl grey is in fact caffiene free, probably worth looking into since I only have this on the trail.

The change in noises must contribute but that's hard to quantify, my scouts tend to crash early and I camp close, but not too close.

That hike till you drop thing hasn't worked for me either, getting to sleep is easy, staying asleep past 1 or 2 is tough.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Sleep aids on 02/07/2014 13:54:42 MST Print View

Not sure whether this is something you can do or not, but have you tried hammocking?

Roger says get used to the fact that you'll wake up every 3-4 hours (or something like that). When I sleep on a pad/ground, that's true. When I sleep in a hammock, I sleep through the night, feel much more rested in the morning, etc. etc.

If that doesn't work, then download the global warming thread on BPL. If you can get to page 5 without falling asleep, then nothing will help you....

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
hammocks on 02/07/2014 14:01:56 MST Print View

I've napped in my backyard in both a blackbird and a larger henessy. Always found shoulder squeeze to be an issue. Do bridge hammocks solve this? At any rate, most of the places we camp aren't too hammock friendly.

Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
ear buds and music on 02/07/2014 14:16:25 MST Print View

I've found that ear buds with music when I go to bed make a big difference. I go with classical or something mellow to help me relax.

Our troop has a no electronics rule for the kids so I have to be stealthy.

Matt Macaulay
(mmacaulay1) - F

Locale: Texas
Melatonin on 02/07/2014 14:50:02 MST Print View

+1 on the Melatonin. I take 5mg. If I'm not asleep in an hour or so I take another one. Benadryl/diphenhydramine makes me feel groggy if I have to get up in the middle of the night. Not ideal if you're taking care of Scouts.

sleep on 02/07/2014 21:42:19 MST Print View

Earplugs, miles, and an inflatable pad.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
sleep aid on 02/08/2014 00:25:37 MST Print View

Night shift person here, always sleep-deprived to some extent, and my weekly 1-2 nights in the woods are where I catch up. I have no trouble sleeping outdoors(usually sundown to sunup, or even longer). Sleeping at home can be a challenge, though.

-Melatonin or 5-HTP(only if I don't have to get up for 6-8 hours)
-Recording of "Ocean's Relaxing Surf".
-Probably an exception, but coffee helps me sleep.
-Smartwool Training Beanie turned backwards so the longer back covers my eyes.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Kavinace or Benadryl on 02/08/2014 00:29:47 MST Print View

The latter is multipurpose. The former works as we'll or better.

david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
advil pm on 02/08/2014 06:38:17 MST Print View

2 advil pm.

Seth R
(Lerxst) - F

Locale: Northeast
Benadryl on 02/08/2014 08:19:04 MST Print View

I'm not a fan of antihistamines. Last time I took Benadryl on a backpacking trip I woke up at my 05:30 alarm, hit snooze, then re-awoke at 07:30. Kind of killed my momentum. Earplugs and a wee nip of bourbon for me.

Kevin S.
Tea? on 02/08/2014 08:58:49 MST Print View

I am a big fan of herbal tea. I'm not even a tea drinker aside from my nightly glass of herbal tea. I think just the routine of having it every night before has helped as much as the tea itself. Something warm in my belly helps as well. I still keep benadryl as a back up, but I often have some allergy issues in spring.