Now that we dodged that snowstorm that was forecasted for last weekend, it’s time to turn attention to spring, and yard work, and—at least in the Giebler home—camping!

This weekend Edwin and I will head to Peninsula State Park for a weekend in a tent and a hammock with some hiking and exploring mixed in. The temperatures and overall forecast look great. For now, at least....
How do you feel about the idea of sleeping under the stars? Is it exciting, or does it fill you with dread? For many people (especially those over 35), their concern isn’t so much about being outside, it’s about getting a poor night’s sleep and then having to live with all the consequences the next day. Most of us can probably relate, even if we don’t share the same worries ourselves.
The good news is that there are some easy things you (or your anxious family members and friends) can do to improve the odds of sleeping well outdoors. Here’s a quick list of helpful tips and tricks:
Set up your tent on a flat surface. This is a really, really obvious one, yet on several occasions in the past I have managed to set up my tent on a metal stake that was sticking out of the ground, or on a root, or on a slant, meaning I had at least one child sliding into me all weekend. While you’re looking for a suitably level place to pitch your tent or spread out your sleeping bag, ensure that the area you choose is free of bumpy objects such as rocks and tree roots that will make you wake up feeling sore and bruised.
Use an inflatable sleeping pad or mattress under your sleeping bag to provide extra padding. This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you decide to use an air mattress, don’t forget to bring along a pump! If you leave your pump at home, you could spend a lot of time filling even a moderately sized mattress.
Check the weather forecast to see how much insulation you’ll need for your sleeping bag. Being either too hot or too cold isn’t going to help you get a good night’s rest—that’s just as true outdoors as it is indoors. But when you’re outdoors, the temperature is usually more variable than it is indoors. The wilderness doesn’t come with a programmable thermostat—remember that even in locations where it is warm during the day, the temperature can often drop significantly overnight. This is where a bit of planning and a willingness to improvise helps. You can purchase a sleeping bag liner that will add an additional 25 degrees of warmth without being bulky. And if it’s too hot, you can always sleep on top of your sleeping bag.
Consider bringing along earplugs or a set of earphones. Some people love the sounds of crickets chirping or wind through the trees and find that they help them fall asleep. Others don’t. For them (particularly for the city dwellers), it can be worse than traffic noise on a busy downtown street. And it’s always unsettling when you hear a four-legged critter visiting your campsite. Light sleepers may want to bring along some earplugs just in case. Or, if you’re someone who needs background noise to sleep and you’re not near the ocean and there are no crickets nearby, there are a number of smartphone apps that can provide ambient sounds such as rivers flowing or rain falling on forest leaves.
Be sure your sleepwear is dry. This seems obvious, but it’s one of the easiest mistakes to make. Whether it’s sleeping or whether it’s during the day and you’re outside being active, be sure to have your rain gear on before it starts raining. Have it ready and stay dry. If your clothes are damp or wet, change into dry ones and put on a fresh pair of socks to make you feel extra comfortable. And be careful not to overdress, since you can become overheated and sweaty, which can lead to getting a chill. A light pair of long underwear is your best bet. If you’re a bit too cool, throw your jacket or a light blanket over your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
A little light exercise before bed can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Nothing vigorous enough to work up a sweat, but just maybe a walk to the bathroom or around the campground will help get your circulation going and tire you out enough to settle down for sleep.
Get outside and enjoy your night out under the stars! As I’ve written about in the past regarding my time “floating,” it takes some practice, but overcoming those obstacles can unlock a whole new world of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Subscribe to the E-Edition of the Tri-County News

Or, just give us a call at 920-894-2828