We’re here again, in the midst of festival season! And with well over 800 different music festivals taking place in the UK this year ( 1) spanning every genre imaginable, there’s something for everyone on offer!
But a long weekend away at a festival isn’t really the environment to catch some quality sleep. Research suggests that some of us struggle to achieve even 4 hours of sleep at some of the biggest UK music festivals ( 2).
So how are we supposed to dance all day on next to zero sleep? Well, one Glastonbury 2023 music festival goer showed up with his entire bed ( 3) – bed frame, mattress, the works! But, while that is one way to ensure you get some quality shut eye, it isn’t feasible for most festival goers. The sheer task of assembling and then disassembling an entire bed frame at the start and end of the festival is enough to put most of us off. And how do you find room in your car for that kind of set up? Especially when you factor in a couple of festival friends to carpool with!
So, if you’re headed off to a music festival and want to know how best to get at least some quality sleep without taking your bed along for the trip, read on. We’ll take you through some less tricky tips to help you sleep soundly at a festival.
1. Pack some ear-plugs – and actually use them!
When it comes to noisy neighbours, you won’t experience anything quite as bad as they are at a festival. And unfortunately, noise can not only prevent you from getting to sleep, it can also disturb your sleep throughout the night too ( 4). And be it little or broken sleep, you’ll wake up feeling less than eager to tackle the next day.
One quick fix is to invest in some earplugs. They’re useful for preventing noise disruption during the night but can also be worn throughout the day to protect your ears ( 5).Loud music (that happens to be part and parcel of the festival atmosphere)can lead to a ringing in your ears known as tinnitus (6).
2. Pack comfy sleepwear
Okay, you’ve been planning your summer festival outfits for months but what about your festival sleepwear? When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, being comfortable is super important. Without comfortable sleeping attire, you’re likely to struggle to drift off ( 7).
Ditch the denim and the tight-fitting clothes at the door of your tent. Instead, opt for loose fitting sleepwear that will help to regulate your body temperature and ensure that you aren’t kept awake due to being uncomfortable.
3. Choose the right camping spot
This is one for all those festival newbies. So, pay attention! Festivals have different zones. Some are considered high-traffic and others are low-traffic areas. Think it’s a good idea to pitch up as close to the toilets as possible? Think again. People will be toing and froing from the porta-loos all day and all night. And by the end of the weekend, that appalling scent is bound to start clinging to your very being too.
Similarly, it’s not wise to camp as close to the entrance of the music festival as possible. While this may save your legs, it definitely won’t contribute to a better night’s sleep. You’ll have people walking past your tent, chattering, and singing (if you can call drunken wailing that) all night long.
Stick to the edges of the campsites instead. And although it may be a longer walk back to your tent the walk will help to prepare your body for sleep ( 8). Plus, it’s much quieter on the outskirts.
4. Pack an airbed
An airbed is considered an essential by many festival goers. You need to make sure you’ve got everything you need to create a comfortable set-up. Packing an airbed will drastically enhance your comfort levels, especially when compared to a sleeping bag straight on the ground.
5. Avoid caffeine
It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re feeling drained but avoiding energy drinks is worth it if you’re hoping to get some sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and so it’s best to avoid it as the afternoon gives way to the evening.
You should also remember that staying hydrated is essential. Consistently consuming a glass of water every hour will ensure that you hydrate your body which will in turn set you up for waking up the next day feeling refreshed ( 10).
6. Take your sleep routine with you
A music festival is as far away from a normal night as you can get. That said, you should try to take as much of your sleep routine with you as possible. Sleep hygiene improves sleep quality and so, if you can stick to your normal sleep routine (even if it’s only a couple of the usual steps), it’s wise to do so.
So, whether you usually read a book before bed, execute your skincare routine or practice yoga, try to keep up with your norm while you’re at the music festival. These activities signals to your brain that it’s time for bed and should help you fall asleep faster ( 11).
7. Shower before getting into your festival bed
If showering before bed is a part of your usual sleep hygiene, shower at night while you’re at the festival too ( 12). By sticking as closely to your normal sleep pattern as possible, your mind and body will receive their usual sleep signals and start to prepare. An added bonus is that the showers are usually less busy at night, so you’ll beat the queues without having to wake up at the crack of dawn too.
8. Lay off the alcohol
So, we all know that alcohol is part and parcel of attending a music festival. And as such, we won’t tell you not to drink. But if you want to achieve a better night’s sleep, be sure to drink in moderation.
Alcohol drastically reduces the quality of sleep you get, so you’ll more than likely still feel tired the next day even if you fall asleep straight away ( 13). And the hangover definitely won’t add to your enjoyment!
It is recommended to try to stop drinking at least 4 hours before you plan on going to bed ( 14). This allows your body the time it needs to break down the alcohol and flush it out of your system. And once the alcohol is gone from your system, your ability to sleep normally will increase.
9. Don’t be afraid to have a nap
If you’re feeling exhausted and there’s a band you MUST see later on, why not pop back to the tent and lie down for a swift power nap? There’s no shame in getting your head down for an hour. Plus, a power nap can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue boogying the day (and night) away ( 15).
10. Go to the toilet before bed
Don’t walk past the toilets and climb into bed without paying them a visit. Sleeping at a festival is quite different to sleeping at home. When we’re at home, most of us only have to walk 50 or so steps at best to reach our lovely clean toilets which we’re well accustomed to navigating half asleep in the pitch black.
At a festival, the scenario is completely the opposite. The toilets (if you’ve followed our earlier advice about not camping too close to the pong) will be at least a couple of hundred steps away. What’s more, navigating tents and guide ropes in the pitch black is a whole new ball game that will take some getting used to.
Save yourself the hassle and go to the toilets as you’re walking back to your tent. Chances are you’ll pass at least one block of porta-loos en route. And if not, take a route that does bypass the toilets. The extra walking will only further prepare you for sleep anyway.
- How Noise Can Affect Your Sleep Satisfaction | Sleep Foundation