If you have gone camping before, you should know by now how hard it is to get a safe, sound sleep. In fact, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep during proper camping conditions. Imagine how hard it will be to get some shut-eye during a bug out scenario. I’ve been going camping for many years and here are my tips on how to get quality rest when bugging out.
Sleep is an absolute necessity during a bug-out scenario when you’re constantly on the move. Even so, most people fail to take this into account. A lot of them stand by the old motto of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Without proper rest, you won’t be able to reach your destination, and you will be making a lot of mistakes. Some of these mistakes can cost you dearly, and that phrase you keep saying may set into effect sooner than you think.
There are two major factors which significantly inhibit sleep: discomfort and stress. These factors are affecting your sleep when you are in the comfort of your own home, let alone when you’re on the move throughout the woods. To make sure you get the rest you deserve, you should prepare your bug out bag and plan your bugging out tactics to fit your needs.
Handling the discomfort factor
When preparing a bug out bag, weight and space considerations are two things you should concern yourself with. Every piece of equipment you carry should fit your needs, but you should also be able to use it to its full extent. Sheltering yourself from the elements is one thing and staying comfortable when doing so is a different thing.
The good news is that there are all sorts of equipment that can be combined and readapted to make you feel comfortable in the wild. Lightweight sleeping pads, four season tents, hammocks, bedrolls, bags, and bivies, are all choices for the bugging out survivalist.
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Having the right sleeping gear can be beneficial for the modern survivalist, and you can find all the sleeping arrangements you need in a compact and convenient package. My advice is to try the gear you think may work for you before buying it. You can try it in your home or backyard without damaging it, and you can even improvise an “unfriendly environment” to test it properly.
I tried a sleeping bag once, and it didn’t feel right when sleeping on the floor. To make sure I’m not jumping to conclusions, I threw some pieces of Lego and other junk on the floor and set the sleeping bag on it. The next morning, I was sure it wasn’t the sleeping bag for me.
Handling the stress factor
When it comes to handling the stress factor, if you covered your gear needs, you shouldn’t worry about the discomfort raising your stress level. However, the environment, the crisis scenario and the timeframe for reaching your destination are all things you should consider.
The environment plays an important role, and you need to know a thing or two about the area you’re sleeping in. How far are you from a water source? Is there any chance you will contaminate the water. Can you hear the water? Is the noise going to affect your sleep or awareness?
Critters are also a big problem, and you need to keep ants, spiders and other crawling creatures out of your sleeping area. Check the area before you set up your tent or dropping your bedroll. I’m using mint toothpaste on my hammock straps to keep ants and other biters at bay. This works for any type of setup you have as long as you’re willing it to smear it onto the vulnerable entry points.
Wood and other resources are also things to consider. You may need to make a campfire or gather branches to create an insulation layer between the ground and your tarp or sleeping bad. Make sure the area has a good amount of supplies before setting up camp.
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The weather is not your friend when you’re camping in the woods. I can vouch for that, and there were times when I said to myself that I’m the unluckiest bastard alive. You need to prepare for bad weather, and there’s no guarantee you will bug out during sunny weather. Your gear should help you stay dry and warm, and your campsite location should be protected from rain, high winds, lighting, etc.
Don’t forget to look up since they don’t call them widowmakers for nothing. I find that people nowadays forget to look up and they only concentrate on what’s on the ground or at eye level. When you’re in the woods, you should check your surroundings. Make sure there aren’t trees or branches that could fall on you. Dead trees are a real danger, and they can put you to sleep for good.
The crisis scenario
An event that triggered the bugging out plan could develop in ways which are hard to predict. A high level of awareness and self-control can help you deal better with the situation at hand. A good sleep can help heal the body and reduce stress levels.
Having racing thoughts and an anxious mind will prevent you from resting properly. To be in control make sure you have access to information and keep yourself updated. Even more, try to calm yourself and realize that you made it out so far. Make a hot beverage, a calming tea if you can and don’t rush drinking it.
Stay calm and plan your next steps based on how the situation develops and the information you acquired. You should be able to figure out if you’re in harm’s way and how much time you should sleep. Try to eat something as it will help your mind stay sharp. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you nervous, you can chew gum to calm down. Your brain will associate the eating sensation with a peaceful scenario as you wouldn’t be eating if you were in danger.
If someone’s accompanying you, sleep in turns if possible. It will help you sleep better if you know that someone’s watching over you. Even more, you can set up a perimeter around your camp and improvise a trip alarm from food cans and small rocks or a trip wire using a keychain alarm and paracord. Having company when the brown stuff hits the fan can help you keep your cool and think things through. You have someone to share ideas with, and you have a helping hand in times of need.
Every bug out plan needs a dedicated timeframe, and you should stick to it. You have X hours or X days to reach your safe heaven, and you shouldn’t rush if you’re not in danger. All the above factors will influence your time-frame, whether you like it or not. If you need to gather resources and waste time finding them, you will cut your sleeping time. If you are stressed, and you can’t control your emotions, it will take you longer to go to sleep. Sleeping-in will waste precious traveling, fishing or hunting time.
If you have no idea how much it will take you to start a fire or cook your meal, you will have to readjust your schedule. Every action you make should be planned. You shouldn’t waste energy, and most importantly, you should not cut your sleep time.
If you are rested and hydrated, you can push through and reach your bug out location. Don’t waste time cooking an elaborate meal. You can survive on the energy bars or other non-cook foods you brought along. Don’t waste too much time with your hygiene routine since body odor should not be a major problem.
You will have time to do all of that when you reach your destination. The main goal here is to reach your bug out location in good shape without drastically changing your bug out timeframe.
My tips for a safe, sound sleep in the wilderness
Here are some of my tips to make sure you get some well-deserved rest when you are traveling through the wilderness. These tips can help you regardless if you are camping or bugging out.
Before turning off the light, make sure you change out of damp clothes and clean up with moist towelettes. If you have a long trip to cover by foot, dry and apply baby powder or similar products to your feet. You will feel much better in the morning.
If you’re dealing with harsh weather, warm some water and put it in your metal canteen or bottles. Tuck them inside extra socks or spare clothes. It will help you warm your sleeping bag before you get in and it will also prevent the water from getting cold too quickly or freeze.
My wife suffers from poor circulation, and she always complains about cold feet. The solution for her was to wear two pairs of quality socks and get a hand warmer between the socks. It’s a good tip for cold weather.
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You will feel drafts around your face and neck during high winds. Heat is lost through these areas, and you should consider bringing a lightweight hand and neck gaiter along. A sleepsuit is also recommended, and you should make sure you keep it dry at all times (use a zip-lock bag). Change into before going to bed and change out of when you wake up.
Before I go to bed, I like to prepare a cup of coconut spicy hot cocoa for myself and everyone accompanying me. It is a good camping beverage because it contains sugar and fat. Your body will metabolize sugar quickly, but it will take some time to metabolize the fat. It also contains half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper which helps to open blood vessels and provide an optimal blood flow. This beverage will help your body stay warm at night. Read this article for the recipe and discover two other winter trail foods you should learn how to make.
A last word
Sleeping during a stressful event is quite a challenge, and this subject is somehow underestimated. Few survivalists cover this topic, and it is one of the essential preps people forget about. You can’t function without sleep, and it’s an absolute necessity. One-third of your lifetime is spent asleep, and you will not function at full capacity without quality rest. Sleep reduces stress, but it also improves memory and awareness.