How to get a Good Night's Sleep at a Festival

Woman sleeping at a music festival

When at a music festival, sleep might not be right at the top of your priority list. And even if it is, it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t get as much as you’d like. Even if sleeping is one of your very favourite things to do, at music festivals you just have to accept that it plays second (or even third, fourth or fifth) fiddle to everything else going on.

Read more: What is the best tent for a music festival?

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t increase your chances of getting some quality shut eye, especially if you have the best sleeping equipment. We had a chat with Dr Tim Quinnell of the British Sleep Society and Consultant Respiratory and Sleep Disorders Physician at Papworth Hospital for his tips on how to get a good night’s sleep at a music festival. Here’s what he had to say...

What are some of the issues caused by not having enough sleep?

The key result of acute sleep deprivation is a deterioration in your ability to think straight. Concentration wanes and attention wanders. There may be memory lapses (where did I leave the tent?) and decision making becomes sluggish (which band shall I watch next?).

Extreme sleep deprivation can cause people to have dream-like experiences when they are still half awake.  People can become irritable and emotional so that relatively minor upsets or disagreements escalate.

Long term lack of sleep has been linked with serious health problems, but a short period of severe sleep loss in the festival setting is unlikely to have this effect.  However, acute lack of sleep does cause physical stress and people with underlying medical conditions may need to be more careful not to overdo it.

The body’s temperature regulation may lose its regularity and theoretically the immune system may be temporarily weakened. For example, festival goers may find they develop coughs and colds in the days after a festival (although there will also be other reasons why this happens).

Probably one of the biggest threats to physical wellbeing will be during the journey home. If there is a designated driver then they should make sure that they are adequately rested before setting off. Needless to say alcohol and illicit drugs will have their own impacts that could interact with the effects of sleep loss.

Any tips for feeling perky if you’re tired?

There is no substitute for getting enough sleep. However you may be able to get away with a little bit less (eg. 5-6 hours) for a couple of nights without major difficulty.  Moderate caffeine can help but avoid taking too much as it can have its own side effects, and it is better to avoid it altogether 2-4 hours before when you are planning to sleep. Brief catch-up  ‘powernaps’ back at the tent can also help you get through lulls during the day.

Once more, drivers home shouldn’t rely on these ‘counter measures’ as substitutes for enough sleep.

What might stop you from sleeping well at a festival?

This is pretty obvious: loud noise, uncomfortable sleeping environment, drugs and alcohol.

Woman sleeping at a music festival

Top tips for sleeping well at a music festival

So we’ve heard from the experts on why a lack of sleep can be bad for you, plus a few tips on how you can get some decent kip, but we have our own advice for those who still value their sleep, even during the excitement of a music festival.

Choose the right campsite

Most festivals have several campsites, and they often have their own distinct atmospheres. Obviously those that are a little livelier are going to pose the greatest threat to a good night’s sleep, so make sure you do a bit of research before you pitch up as to which campsite will suit you best. There will also often be a dedicated ‘quiet’ or ‘family’ campsite, so these could be a good choice.

Choose a flat pitch

Festival campsites aren’t often pristine, beautifully manicured pitches. They’re essentially just fields, and can therefore be uneven in places, which can prevent you getting comfortable when it’s time to go to sleep. Try and find as flat a pitch as possible, and clear away any loose debris before you put up your tent.

Use earplugs & eye mask

They may not be the most glamorous items in the world, but earplugs and an eye mask can be absolute lifesavers when it comes to sleeping well at a festival. Campsites can be noisy all through the night, so earplugs can help shut out that noise, while an eye mask will help prevent being woken up by early morning sunshine.

Lay off the alcohol

We’re not going to tell you not to drink, but if you want to ensure a better night’s sleep then moderate how much you’re drinking. Alcohol reduces the quality of sleep you get, so you’ll more than likely still feel tired the next day. Not to mention have a headache!

Have a nap

If you feel like you’re flagging and there’s a band you absolutely can’t miss later on in the day, nip back to the tent for a quick power nap. This will make you feel refreshed and keep you partying later into the evening.

Woman in a red sleeping bag

Have the right sleeping equipment

Of course, if you want to sleep well, then you need the correct sleeping equipment, and that’s where Winfields Outdoors can help you out. So what are you going to need?

Sleeping bag

Climbing into a comfy sleeping back at the end of a long day dancing is a great feeling, so make sure you have a good quality festival sleeping bag. If the weather is going to be nice and warm, then a 1 or 2 season sleeping bag should be fine. However, it can still get cool at night even if it’s hot during the day - a 3 or 4 season sleeping bag will ensure you stay warm no matter what the weather’s doing.

See all of our sleeping bags, including children's sleeping bags if you're heading to a family festival.

Sleeping mats

Unless you want to feel every little lump, bump and undulation in the ground when you sleep, then you’ll need a sleeping mat. They also help to insulate you, so your body heat doesn’t escape into the floor, again helping to keep you warmer.

There are various types of camping mat available, from simple foam mats to double self-inflating designs. A self-inflating mat is a great choice as it helps provide a little extra cushioning, while we also have short sleeping mats to just fit under your torso, which is a handy space saver.

Take a look at all of our sleeping mats

Check out all of our festival sleeping essentials - and if you have any tips on getting a good night’s sleep at a music festival, let us know in the comments!

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