Loc: Michigan, just N of detroit
OK folks, the last three trips I took were almost sleepless, the last one was 3 nights and I payed attention to why, I'm tossing and turning all night and cannot get comfortable, I used a 1.5 in corelite REI pad with core holes in it just like the prolight 4, and an older sm. thermarest pillow, I could not keep my head comfy, and being a side sleeper my ribs hurt, I want to try a thermarest trailpro reg. 2 lbs just 5 oz. more that my other pad, and a larger pillow, I'm also thinking of trying an over the counter sleep aid no idea which one.
Do any of you have any suggestions, if I can't sleep I can't go and I don't want to quit hiking.
"Not comfortable" doesn't describe your needs. Are you hot or cold, ground too hard, too soft, too steep, too ...? Pillow too pillowy? Bones sticking through the pad and hitting the ground? sliding off the pad?
I had some tossing and turning and sliding. I got a hammock. That works for some people, others don't like them, but with a pad or underquilt properly applied it's warm and I can sleep on my side without my hip bone digging into the thermarest and bumping the ground.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Loc: jersey city NJ
On a trip to relatively high altitudes, sleeping at 10-15,000 feet, I took lots of Ambien, and it worked, a little bit. It's maybe not medically advisable where altitude is a problem, but I had no regrets, as some nights I couldn't sleep without it.
The stuff works better where altitude isn't working against you. I hear it's cheap and getting a prescription isn't a big deal, though mine was from a friend. I didn't experience any "hangover" symptoms nor any type of high.
Come to think of it, I happened to meet a French chemist who said he helped develop Ambien, and he told me that he'd taken it frequently over a long period, and said he had some memory loss as a result. I forget his name.
An insulated air mattress (Exped or Big Agnes for example; or, if your area has plenty of trees, try a hammock), a better pillow (look around, I use a LuxuryLite) and some cheap over-the-counter anti-histamines should do you (the ones that warn they may cause drowsiness like Benadryl, not the newer, more expensive, less-drowsy stuff). Try the pills at home first; some people react differently than others. Don't exceed recommended dosages, I am not a doctor, other disclaimers.
Not sure if the real issue is you are uncomfortable, or you have high energy. Don't drink any caffeine after 5pm. Then try to work yourself hard so you will be tired at night. If that doesn't work, take a benedryl at bedtime. Puts me out every time.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I have trouble sleeping too. But sleeping is an interesting phenomenon. It's as much mental as physical. Now if your problem is really just physical (i.e. you go to sleep but then you wake up when your hip gets sore) then perhaps all you need is a better pad.
But if you can't GET to sleep then I think it's more likely mental. We don't realize how our brains take little cues from their surroundings to know that it's time to sleep. For instance you can buy a new, more comfortable mattress for your bed at home but the first night you might not be able to sleep because you brain was used to the old, uncomfortable one. But your brain learns quickly. So the solution might just be to keep at it until it becomes something your brain gets used to.
Noise is another thing that can keep us up in the woods. Especially this time of year it's amazingly loud out there (stupid bugs!). Earplugs can help.
If you choose the benedryl option, try it at home first. I find that 1 tablet (1/2 normal dose) will put me to sleep, but 2 will give me "restless legs." This is a common side effect for the older antihistimines... some people simply can't tolerate the sensation (also common to many prescription anti-nausea drugs, which are also in the same family as benedryl). Also, antihistimes are dehydrating, hence the "hangover" effect. Make sure you are hydrated before bed and the next morning. I used to use benedryl alot to sleep, now I use sublingual melatonin. I find it as effective 95% of the time, and it has no hangover effect. Melatonin doesn't work on everyone though, and in some people it seems to cause strange dreams. Of the different forms you can get, the sublingual/chewable form is by far the most effective. I use a 2.5mg dose, 5mg is more common for people larger than I. My son used to use a 0.325mg dose. I'm starting him back up again on a 1mg dose.
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.
Are these your first backpack trips? Sleeping in a bag takes some getting used to. As for aches and pains, I have discovered it is not necessarily my pad, but has more to do with the miles I hike. When I go with family (who like to take it easy) I have no aches and pains. When I push myself on solos I tend to have aches and pains. I find that after time (say on a 2-week trip) my body adjusts to whatever sleep system I use.
So, if you mostly do short trips (weekends), I would use a thicker pad because on short trips your food weight is low anyway, so the added pounds are not such a big deal. On long trips, I would take minimalistic gear and let your body adapt.
I found that earplugs are a big factor for me. I do not go anywhere without them anymore. Also, pre-emtpive Advil (or other pain medication) works wonders. I also found that I am somewhat allergic to down, so I take an anti-histimane before bed - the old fashioned ones that make you sleepy as an added advantage.
You have to feel safe and calm to sleep. I never sleep well if I have lingering thoughts regarding the safety of my camp. You may want to rationally evaluate the real dangers to assure yourself that all is OK. People have said they do not want to wear earplugs because they might not hear a bear. Well, what am I going to do anyway? Scream? Wrestle the bear? I put the earplugs in and if a bear comes around, so be it. (this is black bear country, not grizzly country that I backpack in). I know my food is properly stored and black bears generally do not eat people (in spite of the Far Side cartoon that shows two bears beind a tree looking at two guys in sleeping bags and saying "sandwiches" yum!) Just rationally assure yourself that you chose a good campsite (if you do not feel safe, find another campsite.)
I take some Brandy for helping me get to sleep. If I spend all day hiking I usually don't need it, though I may take a snort anyway, but if I'm with some people new to the game and I don't hike much it helps.
I'm a prodominantly side/stomach sleeper. Much like you I almost have to have at least one if not both arms under my pillow. I was always curious if there were any side sleeper custom pads that were narrower in width yet with a little deeper padding in the important areas.
Sadly I end up just shifting around a lot, switching from side to stomach to side every couple hours. I usually do a few advil or excedrin before bed, makes the morning easier but doesn't really help with the night. The only time i've tried like Tylenol PM I was up all night and well into the day. I don't know what was up but I just could NOT stop my brain from thinking about anything/everything.
If your going to try a sleep aid, you'll definately want to give it a shot at home first for a few nights in a row.
I cannot recommend highly enough the Big Agnes insulated air core pad. I am a side sleeper myself and it is by far the most comfortable sleeping pad that I have ever used for backcountry camping. Finally I can sleep on my side without having an arm go numb during the night! The earplugs are also an excellent idea. I routinely sleep with foam earplugs at home and find them to be quite comfortable. One last thing to keep in mind is that your body will take a day or two to adjust to sleeping on the ground as opposed to your bed. I never sleep very well on the first night of a backpacking trip but each subsequent night gets better. Good luck!
I don't understand the need for ear plugs. Where I camp it is extremely quiet. I am often amazed at the lack of sounds at night. I am often all alone in a wilderness camp too. I don't even come across many hikers in my travels.
I found the sleeping bag was causing me to keep awake, I didn't know it then but it turns out I have some mild claustrophobia. I recently switched to the GoLite Quilt which lets me shift around without creating cold spots or anything. Made a big difference.
Some compiled suggestions for everyone's benefit: -take it easy on the sugar and caffeine after x:00 (find your cutoff time, mine is 3:00pm) -don't eat a big meal right before bed -no tight clothing or restrictive sleeping bags -try some drugs at home if you need to (benadryl, pot, alcohol, whatever works for you and your morals) -ear plugs help if you're prone to waking up every time a tree creaks or a wave crashes. -make a note of your thoughts before you go to bed. If you're not trying to remember things, your mind might not be so active -try to emulate some of your routines at home. Walk the dog, have a cup of tea, read a book, contemplate your navel.. whatever you normally do before bed. -if something about your camp setup is bothering you, get up and fix it. Lying awake all night worrying about it is worse than a few minutes freezing yourself resetting your tarp or hanging your food higher.
I know some folks will sleep on their camp mattress at home for about a month or two. After that its easy to sleep in the woods. It takes some commitment though. I did it for two months about a year ago and still don't have problems on the ground anymore. After the first week and half it felt just fine. You know some cultures still sleep on grass mats on the ground. Bedding is actually not a natural thing - as a matter of fact I think they suggest sleeping on the floor if you have back problems. Just thought I would throw that out there. Maybe some other brave soul will give it atry and report on the effects.
“I don't understand the need for ear plugs. Where I camp it is extremely quiet.”
You are so lucky. Several nights this summer, I have been serenaded by Cicadas of which ONE can produce 90db. And then get several hundred going and you have to shout to talk to your buddy right next to you. You need ear plugs just to protect your hearing.
And then winter---- you would think it would be quiet at night. But no; in the MO Ozarks, when you get a 50mph wind going through the mountainess woods, jet engine sounds are produced all night. Initially I think “Is that jet ever going to die off?” and then I realize “Oh oh. It’s going to be one of those nights.”
Anyway, I am a light sleeper so the ear plugs are a big help to me. I also take Tylenol PM (vitamin T) on the first night sometimes.
Refreshingly you are interested in a good night's sleep rather than just shaving ounces. Me too. It's a lot easier to carry a few extra mattress ounces after a good night's sleep than to carry a light weight mattress after a lousy night's sleep.
I'd wait for the new Thermarest NEO AIR. I just got off the phone with a customer service guy at Cascade Designs, who owns Thermarest. He said the Neo Air mattresses are coming out early next year, March at the latest.
The NEO AIR mattress, in Regular size, weighs 14 oz. The next lightest inflatable Thermarest full length mattress, The Prolite 3 Regular length, is 20 oz. Plus the NEO AIR is slightly warmer in R value than the Prolite 3 and definitely warmer than the uninsulated Big Agnes Air Core.
Eric PS. I forgot to mention another "sleep aid". These quilt guys are onto something besides light weight. On warm nights, I zip my bag all the way open, hook the foot of the bag over the foot of my Thermarest UL mattres and sleep like I'm at home, not in a confining mummy bag. Being a stomach sleeper it works great.
Edited by 300winmag (08/28/0810:08 PM)
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
I use a Thermarest Prolite 3/4 length. Under that I use a Ridgerest closed-cell full length that I have cut so the I can use part of the Ridgerest and the Thermarest in my camp chair. I had a couple back surgeries, so I need all the help I can get for my back! I also am a side sleeper - and it seems that this combination works very well for me.
I also take 1 benedryl and 1 ibuprofen about 20 minutes before hitting the sack, and that really does wonders for my sleep!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Try an insulated air mattress--Pacific Outdoor or Big Agnes. My POE Insulmat Max Thermo (such a long name!), now replaced by the Ether Thermo, weighs 16.9 ounces. The trick is not to pump it up full, but only a little over halfway. I like it where my hip is about 1/2 inch off the ground. Sleeping on a fully blown-up air mattress or inflatable pad isn't much different from sleeping on a rock. You have to experiment as to what is most comfortable for you.
I generally don't sleep too well the first night out, because I'm too excited. After that, though, I sleep just fine unless I've picked too slopey a tent site, where I'm battling gravity half the night.
My worst night's sleep recently was while returning from two back-to-back one-week backpacks. After two weeks out, I just couldn't adjust to sleeping in an enclosed room the first two nights. Not exactly good preparation for a 1000-mile drive home.
The suggestion to avoid sugar and stimulants (this includes chocolate as well as coffee and tea) late in the day is also a good one. But it really sounds as though you need a more comfortable sleeping pad.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Listen to Phat. He knows of what he speaks. After sleeping in a hammock, I will never sleep on the ground again. Or you could do like I do and have a nightcap. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />Inebration may be the solution to your confusion. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />
Loc: The Third Maine
I am interested in this use of low doses of iIbuprofen and benedryl. I'm aware the benedryl has mild sleep aid properties, and I'm guessing the one ibuprofen lightens any aches and pains from the day of hiking?
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