Feb 7, 2014 at 9:39 am #1312999
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?
ThanksFeb 7, 2014 at 9:42 am #2070846
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 9:50 am #2070849
Gary DunckelBPL Member
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 10:07 am #2070855
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 10:28 am #2070860
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 10:40 am #2070865
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Either 3mg or 5mg melatonin pills.
–B.G.–Feb 7, 2014 at 10:46 am #2070866
…Feb 7, 2014 at 11:00 am #2070869
@bolsterLocale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 11:29 am #2070885
…Feb 7, 2014 at 12:53 pm #2070919
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 12:54 pm #2070920
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….Feb 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm #2070923
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm #2070928
Joe LynchBPL Member
@rushfanLocale: Northern California
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm #2070941
Matt MacaulayBPL Member
+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.Feb 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm #2071046
Earplugs, miles, and an inflatable pad.Feb 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm #2071071
Owen McMurreyBPL Member
@owenmLocale: SE US
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.Feb 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm #2071072
Brian JohnsBPL Member
The latter is multipurpose. The former works as we'll or better.Feb 8, 2014 at 5:38 am #2071090
david richardsonBPL Member
2 advil pm.Feb 8, 2014 at 7:19 am #2071101
Seth RBPL Member
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.Feb 8, 2014 at 7:58 am #2071109
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.Feb 8, 2014 at 9:16 am #2071131
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I found that a good pillow improved my sleep. I was amazed at the difference. A hammock REALLY improved my sleep. Really the best way to live on the trail.
I like listening to a radio with earbuds, but it will wake me up later. A radio that has a sleep function works better— saves the battery too. Podcasts on my phone have worked even better for me at home.
A little booze can act like a stimulant. I would go for an over the counter sleep aid, but only if everything else failed. If you can't sleep, better to fix the problem than mask the symptoms!Feb 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm #2071249
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Laphroaig?Feb 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm #2071322
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Go backpacking more often?Feb 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm #2071330
Kevin BurtonBPL Member
The two Ms…
Melatonin and Marijuana.
… for Marijuana get an indica strain.
I'm surprised more people don't discuss it here. Safer than alcohol and VERY lightweight.
It's also a great pain reliever.Feb 8, 2014 at 7:32 pm #2071336
"Safer than alcohol"
In what manner?
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