Getting a good night’s sleep indoors during an emergency or survival situation is hard enough, however it is far more difficult when you are outside. As a prepper, you should know better than most how important it is to get enough sleep.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you will wake up feeling tired and groggy. This will make it harder for you to make good decisions when things are already chaotic and maybe even dangerous. For instance, can lack of sleep cause dizziness? A study of 237 patients was published in the National Library of Medicine March 7, 2018 dealing with this question. Their findings strongly suggest that there are associations between dizziness and a lack of sleep.
Not only that, but you’ll be tired and find it harder to handle the physical demands that are typical of most survival and emergency situations. Depending on your situation, you may need to camp out in the woods or sleep in your car. It may be tough and uncomfortable to sleep in these situations, so you need to be ready for whatever comes along.
Assessing Your Arrangements
If you already know where you’ll go in an emergency, have you looked for a place to set up your tent? Does the ground look even and flat?
If the ground is flat and grassy, you could put down a groundsheet and sleep in a bivy sack or a sleeping bag, depending on how warm you want to be. But if the ground is uneven, rough, or damp, you’d be better off using a military-style camping cot instead. They are lightweight, but sturdy and they can also be folded up which makes them more compact and easier to carry.
Since these cots are above ground, you’ll be more comfortable and won’t have to worry about sharp rocks poking you in the back or a cold ground that makes your bones ache the next morning. If it rained earlier in the day and the ground is muddy, you might not even want to use the military cot at all. If you can find two trees that are close to each other, you can string a hammock between them and use it as a bed.
Factors that Affect Your Sleeping Arrangements
Your comfort will often depend on a few things. Most of the time bugging out alone is much easier because you need less space. If you’re married with no children, you’ll only need one tent, two sleeping bags, etc. You just don’t need as much. If you have kids, you’ll need to think about whether you should get two tents or one big enough for a family. If you buy two tents, will your children sleep alone when outdoors?
Depending on the size of your tent, having several military cots may not be ideal… unless you want to sleep outdoors and get a lot closer to woodland creatures than you intended. Or maybe not. 🙂
If you want your family to be comfortable, you could even have an inflatable mattress in your tent. The usual sizes are available, including king, queen, full, and twin. Again, think about your space limitations inside the tent before you buy, as well as how to configure them inside. For example, a twin inflatable mattress may be easier to maneuver , even if you have two, than one larger size.
One thing to keep in mind is that military cots, sleeping bags, and hammocks are useful, but they don’t give your back much support when you sleep. An inflatable mattress will be much more comfortable and easier on your tired body.
Even if it’s hard to sleep at night because everyone is in the tent, you could inflate the mattress and sleep during the day when everyone else is outside. Even a one hour nap will help a lot and you’ll feel better and more refreshed because you had more comfortable sleep.
Sleeping in Your Car
Generally, sleeping in your car will feel safer because you won’t be exposed to the elements. You also won’t have to set up a tent or inflate a mattress either.
Still, sleeping in your car can be very uncomfortable, especially if you’re tall. You might get some sleep if you’re reclining in your seat but you still may not be very comfortable. Figuring out how to sleep in a car is another one of those skills you don’t think about, but may need one day.
You can sleep in the backseat but your legs will have to be pulled up and there won’t be much room to move around. All in all, not a good time. Using a sleeping bag in the car can help ease some of the discomfort, it will make the backseat more comfortable. You can also use blankets to help.
Stretch for about 10 to 15 minutes before you try to sleep. This will help your muscles and body be more limber and relaxed. Stretching will help you wake up with less pain since you’ll be cramped in a small space for hours. Don’t forget to crack your window a little so that you have ventilation in the car.
For your safety, make sure the car doors are locked. If you’re parked in a place where the lights from street lamps or the sounds of traffic are keeping you from sleeping, you might want to use a blackout sleep mask and noise-reducing ear plugs.
The Most Important Item You Need
Even though cots, sleeping bags, and hammocks are necessary, they pale in comparison to the most important item you will need…
If you said “Pillow”, you are exactly right!
Your pillow is the one thing that can make or break how well you sleep. Rolling up a bundle of clothes for a makeshift pillow just won’t cut it. You’ll just end up with a crick in your neck.
You’ll need a camping pillow that gives you the right amount of support. The good ones are made of memory foam and are compressible so that they mold to fit your head and neck. You could also use a neck pillow which is especially helpful when sleeping in your car.
No matter what you do make sure you have a pillow you can take with you when you bug out. Don’t just assume you can bring your feather pillows from home. Most will not ‘survive’ outdoors, especially if they get wet. You need a camping or travel pillow which is lighter and more portable.
Other Items You May Want
If you’d like to read in your tent before bed, it would help to have a camping lantern. If you have children who are sleeping in their own tent, they may also want some light to make them feel safer.
Having Cyalume glow sticks will be great for giving off a soft warm glow that kids love, and they last 8 to 12 hours. Even snapping the sticks can be fun for them. These glow sticks are safe and the light will go out slowly over time. As night falls, the tent will have a soft glow that will make it easier to sleep.
Mylar blankets are another item that might be useful. If it gets cold, it will be hard to sleep. Mylar blankets retain about 90% of your body heat and will keep you warm, whether you’re in a tent or in a car.
Get Prepared Now
There is a quote by E. Joseph Cossman that fits perfectly, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”
When you’re in a crisis, being able to get a good night’s sleep will give you the energy and willpower to get through the next day, and you’ll be less likely to have to endure fatigue, depression, and other illnesses.
If you use the tips in this article, you’ll be better prepared for any crisis that may come your way.
Don’t just buy support pillow, use it for a week or two to make sure it fits you well.
When you get a military cot, make sure you set it up at home a few times so that it becomes second nature to you. Having to fumble with it outside as it gets dark, while holding a glow stick between your teeth so you can see what you’re doing, is NOT a good plan.
Being a capable prepper means being ready for anything that could happen and knowing how to use your equipment. If you can do that, you’ll be able to handle most crises with ease and proficiency.