Sleeping aids?

Posted by: SC Forester

Sleeping aids? - 01/23/14 11:16 PM

During recent backpacking trip I’ve noticed at least one person in group using a sleeping aid, Ambien, Tylenol PM or just Benadryl to assist sleeping in the backcountry. I don’t take them because it takes half of the next day to fully wakeup but I also feel that it is somehow cheating. Has anybody else encountered this?
Posted by: lori

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/23/14 11:26 PM

Sure, but I never use one myself. I sleep better out there than i usually do at home. An mp3 or a music app on my phone is all I've needed when someone's snoring...
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 10:59 AM

My knowledge here is limited but I think there's a big difference between prescription sleeping aids and those bought over the counter. I've used the latter and not had any issue with waking up the next morning. I've *heard* multiple times that folks using prescription sleeping pills, however, sometimes do have a tough time fully waking up the next day.
Posted by: BZH

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 11:09 AM

Originally Posted By SC Forester
... but I also feel that it is somehow cheating. Has anybody else encountered this?


It is pretty common. Some people have a hard time sleeping. New noises, hard mat, tiny pillow, sleeping bag is too thin. I don't take them, but I don't think it is right to judge other peoples medical choices.
Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 03:55 PM

I will sometimes drink chamomile and/or hops flower tea before bed. Hydrates me, tastes good and I'm out like a light. I backback to hike not camp - and often I don't sleep well. I will also sometimes take a Tylenol PM (1 pill, not the full 2 pill dose) if I'm achy.

I don't see how it is "cheating" though. My husband suffers from insomnia and it is pretty serious stuff.
Posted by: Pika

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 04:17 PM

I will occasionally take a sleep aid while on the trail. I can have problems sleeping the first few nights of a trip. I use a low dose benzodiazepine and have no difficulty waking in the morning. So, yes, I have "encountered this". Do I think it is "cheating"? No, no more than I think taking ibuprofen for muscle aches is cheating. Moreover, let me suggest that it is probably not really appropriate for one to judge how another person deals with sleep-related issues. In other words, HYOH.
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 06:14 PM

Melatonin is a safe natural supplement that, at least for me, knocks me cold out.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 08:38 PM

I'm usually awake part of the first night listening to the night sounds, really welcome and exciting after the city noise at home. I just assume that on day 2 I'll be a bit sleep-deprived. After that, no problems! The only issue would be on a one-night trip with a long drive home on day 2, a situation I avoid.

The problem with prescription sleep aids is if you have to get up at night, you will be staggering around quite zonked and could get into trouble.
Posted by: SC Forester

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 09:16 PM

I would never think about questioning somebody taking a medication for medical reasons. I was questioning the use of a sleeping aid like I would question any piece of gear. I have reservations (founded or not) about using a sleeping aid so I could take a lighter sleeping bag and/or mat. In a sense using a medication as a gear supplement. I have heard people say “the cold wouldn’t bother me I’m taking a sleeping pill”. Could you get hypothermic and not realize it until its more serious? Perhaps I should have asked the original question as, Has anybody else come across people using a sleeping aid to lighten their pack.
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/24/14 09:21 PM

Originally Posted By SC Forester
I would never think about questioning somebody taking a medication for medical reasons. I was questioning the use of a sleeping aid like I would question any piece of gear. I have reservations (founded or not) about using a sleeping aid so I could take a lighter sleeping bag and/or mat. In a sense using a medication as a gear supplement. I have heard people say “the cold wouldn’t bother me I’m taking a sleeping pill”. Could you get hypothermic and not realize it until its more serious? Perhaps I should have asked the original question as, Has anybody else come across people using a sleeping aid to lighten their pack.
Never heard of that and it would be irresponsible.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/27/14 09:26 PM

I don't sleep well the first few nights out but that happens wherever I might go, not just when I'm outside camping or backpacking. I start sleeping like a baby if I'm out for more than three days, but it's not often I'm out longer than that.

The people I backpack with I wouldn't worry about taking something. I wouldn't even think about it unless they said something like they were using it to fend off the cold. That would concern me and might keep me up at night thinking I need to check on them.

On the other hand, I have been around more than a few happy campers who drank enough alcohol to knock themselves out and ended up sleeping outside during some pretty cold nights and they all woke up, so maybe they're on to something crazy
Posted by: ETSU Pride

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/27/14 09:35 PM

I heard they got good sleep aid out west in California, Colorado, Washington......
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/27/14 09:50 PM

Originally Posted By ETSU Pride
I heard they got good sleep aid out west in California, Colorado, Washington......
yea but you need a " prescription"!!
Posted by: ndwoods

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/27/14 11:47 PM

Sleepytime tea and also Calcium-Magnesium...which also helps regulate your heart and help those sore muscles feel better. The kind I like the best is capsules called "boneup." I take a couple in the morning and a couple at night...whether home or away. I have slept soundly ever since I started taking boneup in 05 no matter where I am!
Posted by: dkramalc

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/29/14 12:08 PM

The best backpacking sleep aids I have found are a pair of earplugs! The night noises sometimes keep me up if I haven't been out for a while, and the first night or two I sometimes use the earplugs.
Posted by: phat

Re: Sleeping aids? - 02/19/14 12:40 AM


I always have them with me for campgrounds, and snorers, but unless that's an issue I love the night noises and wouldn't miss 'em. They don't keep me from sleeping.

My best sleep aid is walking all day wink A close second being a couple of dristan and a small nip of scotch.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Sleeping aids? - 02/19/14 11:57 PM

I just accept poor sleep some nights. I use ear plugs. I do not like tea at night because it makes me have to get up and pee a couple of times. I pretty regularly take an antihistamine - I am allergic to down but love my down bag. Cannot sleep on a down pillow at home. the antihistamine also helps me sleep. If really achy I wait a few hours and if still achy, take an Advil. It is surprising how many times all I need to do is relax and aches go away. Most of my sleepless nights are due to worry - about next day's route, weather etc. Occasionally I will chose a terribly uncomfortable campsite and sleep poorly due to lumps or steep side hill. One thing I found counter-intuitive - is that if I listen to soothing music I have a harder time getting to sleep. But if really stressed out from the day I often use music like one would a glass of wine. I just feel I deserve something inspiring.

I sleep poorly at home too, so it is really not a lot of difference.

PS. I am temporarily caring for my 5-year old disabled granddaughter and she is given 7.5 mg of melatonin at night to sleep- it really does the job. She has neurological issues with status-epilepsy and severe sleep problems are typical of her syndrome. I should take one of her melatonin one night and see what happens!
Posted by: The Chef

Re: Sleeping aids? - 05/28/14 12:49 PM

Sleep aids can Help if you have a hard time sleeping in the
wilderness.
They can leave you groggy in the morning and take a while to get out of you system.

Ear plugs do wonders for me
Posted by: Johannes

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/09/16 07:04 PM

Unless you have a serious sleep disorder, I would try to stay away from sleep aids, not just on trips, but altogether. They can be habit-forming and some can increase your risk of death or cancer. My best advice is that you consult your doctor.
Hope this helps. Cheers!
Posted by: Lonerock

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/11/16 05:04 PM

I tried benadryl and advil pm but both had unpleasant side affects next day. I then tried herbal medicine called Luna which really didn't do much to help. More recently I tried another herbal medicine called Sleep Support which seems to work pretty well. Sometimes I 'll take one of these pills plus one regular advil and it seems to work great. I think there's a lot of people with different sleep issues so it's a matter of trial and error.
Posted by: bobito9

Re: Sleeping aids? - 01/14/16 08:21 PM

Sleeping at high altitude will often mess with your sleep (first night at say, 8000' ft always bothers mine), and there isn't much to be done, except take aleve or ibuprofen and drink liquids and give yourself time to adjust. Generally, it is not recommended to drink or take central nervous system depressants at high altitudes, at least not til you're adjusted. This is really an issue at altitudes over 14,000', where depressants can be dangerous. If at 14K+, you can trying taking diamox, a prescription drug that will help reduce the headaches and speed up adjustment. I used it recently on a high altitude trip, but only because I was up over 15,000-16,000'. I guess it helped some.
...of course, I have been known to stick a flask of Jagermeister in a snowbank for a little shot before bed: doubt this helps my sleep much, but what the heck smile
Posted by: Zuuk

Re: Sleeping aids? - 03/16/16 02:48 PM

Ever since my cancer surgery, I haven't had a good night sleep. Some nights I'm up every hour or so for a trip to the bathroom. It's one of the new things I have to learn to live with. My biggest problem is getting back to sleep once I wake up. I did try a sleep aid once, and it did help me get back to sleep, but I felt too groggy on each "trip" and the morning was really hard to get up.

Thing that helps me now is putting on an audio book when I go to bed. I have a few that I've read the novels before, so when I wake up and go back to bed, I'm not lost in the place of the story, since I already know it, and I usually drift off right away. Music may work for others, but not for me. I just need to find a cheap player that can have lots & lots & lots of playing hours, and that would work for my sleeping aid.

Probably not feasible on the trail though, so will just have to keep trying to sleep normally unaided. Someone mentioned tea, which can help as well. Although for me, that's like adding fuel to the fire... or water to the bucket...
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Sleeping aids? - 03/16/16 05:28 PM

Your case is one where a smartphone (onto which you can load a bunch of audiobooks) would be a good thing. Take earphones, though, so you don't disturb your neighbors.
Posted by: JustWalking

Re: Sleeping aids? - 03/16/16 08:53 PM

Originally Posted By Zuuk
Thing that helps me now is putting on an audio book when I go to bed. ... I just need to find a cheap player that can have lots & lots & lots of playing hours, and that would work for my sleeping aid. Probably not feasible on the trail though...


Not cheap, but an iPod Touch is rated for 40 hours of audio playback, and even the smallest version (16GB) will hold an awful lot of books. FWIW.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Sleeping aids? - 03/18/16 01:45 PM

I agree with the couple of replies you've already had --- audio books on the trail can absolutely make sense. I listen to book when I'm doing relatively long hikes by myself.

What works best for me if I plan to listen a lot is a small standalone MP3 player, one that takes a single AAA battery. The great thing about a AAA battery as power source is that you can estimate your amount of listening ahead of time and, at about 18 hours of listening per battery for me, plan out ahead of time how many very light batteries to carry. All without stealing power from a smartphone that in my case at least is used for more important things (photos, blogging, occasional GPS, emergency phone use).
Posted by: Danmaku

Re: Sleeping aids? - 05/05/16 06:56 PM

For people that need it, sleeping aids are fine if dosed correctly. When people wake up groggy or bring a lighter bag because ‘the pills keep them warm’ they are suffering from mild overdosing effects. Over-chilled or groggy mornings are not things that I want to deal with on my hikes.

But I’m in no position to judge anyone: My personal sleeping aid is a few sips off the flask wink
Posted by: KIB1288

Re: Sleeping aids? - 07/23/16 10:02 AM

I do not sleep well, even in my own bed. I don't understand the "cheating" comment about sleep aids. What are people who use them cheating at?

For those who use earplugs, what brand? I have tried a few and they don't work for me, the snoring gets through, they fall out, etc. MP3 player works for me sometimes.

Thanks.
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: Sleeping aids? - 07/29/16 10:10 AM

I think if you have to use sleep aids you arent really getting rest and most of the time it will zap your energy the next day. Cutting out stuff like caffeine and going to bed and waking up the same time every day can make a difference
Posted by: Snappypepper

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/02/16 01:00 PM

I tend to agree with Heather-ak. Camping is a necessary evil for me. I am a side/belly sleeper at home and that's difficult in a sleeping bag. I often take 1/2 of a Unisom to help me sleep and I feel totally fine in the morning. Benadryl does not help me sleep, and I do feel awful the day after taking it, so maybe the people who have a "hangover" are just taking the wrong thing for them? Anyway, to each their own, HYOH and all. But if I'm in a group and people can't get moving the next morning, that WOULD be annoying.
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/06/16 08:49 AM

Originally Posted By Snappypepper
I tend to agree with Heather-ak. Camping is a necessary evil for me. I am a side/belly sleeper at home and that's difficult in a sleeping bag. I often take 1/2 of a Unisom to help me sleep and I feel totally fine in the morning. Benadryl does not help me sleep, and I do feel awful the day after taking it, so maybe the people who have a "hangover" are just taking the wrong thing for them? Anyway, to each their own, HYOH and all. But if I'm in a group and people can't get moving the next morning, that WOULD be annoying.


Unisom is Benadryl. Same active ingredients
Posted by: Barefoot Friar

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/06/16 11:57 AM

Originally Posted By toddfw2003
Originally Posted By Snappypepper
I tend to agree with Heather-ak. Camping is a necessary evil for me. I am a side/belly sleeper at home and that's difficult in a sleeping bag. I often take 1/2 of a Unisom to help me sleep and I feel totally fine in the morning. Benadryl does not help me sleep, and I do feel awful the day after taking it, so maybe the people who have a "hangover" are just taking the wrong thing for them? Anyway, to each their own, HYOH and all. But if I'm in a group and people can't get moving the next morning, that WOULD be annoying.


Unisom is Benadryl. Same active ingredients


Ooo, sounds like a mental thing. It helps you sleep because you believe it helps you sleep, or it doesn't help you sleep because you believe it doesn't help you sleep. Of course, there's always more to it than that, but it's interesting to consider.
Posted by: JustWalking

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/06/16 12:03 PM

Originally Posted By toddfw2003
Unisom is Benadryl. Same active ingredients


Depends on the Unisom. Some have the same antihistamine as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCl), and some have a different antihistamine (Doxylamine succinate).
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/06/16 12:56 PM

I've tried antihistamines, the basis of all OTC sleep aids. I go to sleep but then wake up several hours later with my heart pounding, almost like a panic attack. Then I don't go back to sleep at all.

With an "old lady bladder," I'm up 2-3 times during the night anyway. If I'm not feeling sleepy, I may stay up for a while and watch the stars--so spectacular when away from the lights of civilization!

If I have a short night, I just push through the next day, knowing that I'll sleep well the following night. I've also been known to take an hour's nap during the day. There's nothing that will produce insomnia more easily than lying awake worrying about not getting enough sleep!
Posted by: wgiles

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/06/16 08:38 PM

Benadryl only makes me sleepy during the day. I am supposed to carry some all the time for allergies, but I can't take it very often without getting extremely drowsy in the middle of the day. I try to stay away from it unless I absolutely have to. The non-drowsy antihistamines do little or nothing for me (for allergies, not sleeping).
Posted by: Snappypepper

Re: Sleeping aids? - 08/07/16 12:08 AM

Originally Posted By JustWalking
Originally Posted By toddfw2003
Unisom is Benadryl. Same active ingredients


Depends on the Unisom. Some have the same antihistamine as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCl), and some have a different antihistamine (Doxylamine succinate).


Thank you! Yes, the version I take, which is generic, is the Doxylamine succinate. Bendadryl makes me groggy but doesn't induce sleep like the active ingredient in the med I use. I go through a box of 32 of them in about 6 months, so they aren't something I take all that often, usually when traveling or trying to ensure sleep happens at a specific time for a specific reason.
Posted by: Dia

Re: Sleeping aids? - 02/17/17 01:22 PM

I used to have this issue when I first started backpacking, but opted for drinking chamomile tea and using my essential oil necklace with a couple of drops of lavender. It seemed to calm me enough to get to sleep.
Posted by: Mister13

Re: Sleeping aids? - 02/22/17 07:53 PM

No prescription needed in colorado, washington, or california, just of legal age
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Sleeping aids? - 04/15/17 12:53 AM

For me, ear plugs are a sleep aid when camping. Jimshaw
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Sleeping aids? - 04/16/17 02:27 AM

Hi, JIm, haven't heard from you in a while! Welcome back!
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Sleeping aids? - 04/19/17 02:36 AM

Hi Mouse, glad you're still here.