There comes a time in everyone’s festival life that you just want to sleep.
The trouble with UK festivals and sleep is that it’s absolutely freezing when you want to go to bed, but, if you’re lucky, boiling when you wake up. Anywhere in Europe, Oz or the USA and it’s generally scorching for the whole event – not good for getting any shut eye. Sleeping at festivals is also uncomfortable, noisy, claustrophobic and a pain in the ass to get out if you need the toilet in the middle of the night, like I usually do.
You could think this is annoying and a reason not to go to a festival – or you could embrace it and count it as one of the 101 Reasons to Love Festivals. Always best to choose the latter.
My worst festival sleep
My worst ever sleep at a festival was the second night at Dour Festival in Belgium. The first night I’d got so drunk on gin I’d pretty much passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, when I woke up my friend told me how cold she’d been but I just nodded in hazy agreement. The next night it didn’t take long to see what she’d been moaning about – it was absolutely freezing. All we’d bought each was a bedsheet a piece and not even a jumper. I wore everything I owned and was still so cold I couldn’t move, or sleep. It was actually kind of scary – hyperthermia was beckoning us with an icy finger.
Never, will I ever fail to bring a sleeping bag or a hoody to a festival again.
And nor will you. Here are a few ways you can improve your chances of getting some precious sleep during a festival…
1. Pack well
You need earplugs, warm clothes, a pillow or at least a pillowcase to stuff old clothes in, socks, a sleeping bag, an eyemask and a woolly hat at the very least.
2. Go to the toilet before you get in your tent
It might seem like a mission across the campsite, but needing it at 4am will be even worse. Whether you need it or not, just go. If you don’t, I can guarantee that as soon as you get comfy you’ll start to feel that familiar sensation in your bladder and out you will have to get.
3. Don’t drink an hour before sleep
See reason 2 above.
4. Or, knock yourself out
Your best bet for sleeping at a festival is to knock back a few spirits when you know it’s coming close to sleep time, as proven by my Dour Festival experience. Sends me off a treat.
5. Share a tent
However much you think you need your space it’s always better to share a tent if you want a good sleep at festivals. This is from both a warmth and a safety point of view. You can keep an eye out for each other and share your body heat, maybe even have a little cuddle too. My boyfriend is like a radiator: perfect. Not for you though.
6. Make it dark
Get an extra groundsheet or similar to drape over your tent and in the morning you’ll get at least 20% more sleep time. I made that statistic up, but you know what I mean.
7. Camp in the shade
You’ll need to get to the festival early to bag one of the shady spots, but when you’re basking in the breeze you can watch all those melting in the heat with a sense of achievement, and perhaps a little twisted satisfaction too.
8. Wear yourself out
Go for it, balls out, hard as you can. Walk, dance, rave, do whatever you can to wear yourself out. By the time you see your sleeping bag you’ll conk right out and wake up rosy enough to want to do it all over again.
9. Take some music
You obviously won’t want to waste your smart phone battery on it, but take your iPod along if you really feel like you won’t be able to sleep. When you’re lying in your sleeping bag I can guarantee you’ll be hypersensitive to every sound around you – the laughing, the walking, the chatting, the tent zips, the music – so drown that DeadMaus out with some peaceful Ben Howard plugged into your brain.
DON’T FORGET YOUR EAR DEFENDERS!
10. Call the Night Nurse
I always find Night Nurse medicine a good liqueur for sending me off to sleep if I’m having troubles, but please be careful if you’re mixing with alcohol though. Maybe a good one for the teetotallers among us.
11. Just don’t even bother
If the whole sleeping at a festival thing is not happening for you, just give up. Get up, go out and explore the festival after hours, that’s usually when the most exciting stuff cracks off anyway.
Sunday 29th of May 2016
The worst sleep (Or lack of) I've had is when some girls in the tent next to me sat up all night talking. Come 5am the chat continued, I was still awake. Luckily home was only half hour drive away. So I got in my car, drove home, went to bed, got up and had a shower and was back at the festival before my friends had woken up. I was refreshed and clean- my friends looked VERY rough. This year I'm taking ear plugs
Sunday 29th of May 2016
Ha, bet that felt amazing to be at home in the shower! Yeah it's tough when the walls are so thin and you can just hear everything that your fellow campers are doing or saying. I had the same situation at Coachella Festival but their conversation was so funny and ridiculous it was actually quite entertaining :).
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Sunday 26th of April 2015
[…] Check out Vicky’s guide for sleeping at festivals. […]
Dana @ Green Global Travel
Thursday 16th of April 2015
I've never slept at a festival overnight but this sure does seem like some great advice. Thanks for the tips Vicky!
Saturday 18th of April 2015
Ah trying to get to sleep at a festival is all part of the fun! Hope you manage to find a festival to try out my tricks soon :)
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