Sleep (in my opinion) is without a doubt the most important thing to staying healthy. And if I’m being honest, I sleep a lot. I always have and I think it is one of the many reasons I rarely get sick – I probably just jinxed myself with that one (“Jinx back, double pinky around the side, double pinky, jinx back.” – fellow Gilmore Girls fans, you get this right?). I get grouchy when I only have 7 hours of sleep and I’m at my absolute prime when I get 8-9 hours. Any longer than that, and I just stay lazy all day.
With my love for sleep, there’s a few key essentials that I must have for sleeping on the road. When you’re in a home, your environment is always the same. Sure, occasionally you get an unexpected noise, but the sun comes up at the same angles through your windows each morning, your neighbor slams their car door to leave for work at (well almost) the same time every morning, and your home air conditioning unit well regulates the sleeping temperature to exactly the same each and every night. In an RV, none of this is true. Every new RV park you stay in brings new sunrises, new sounds, new temperatures, new environments. Everything is always changing, but with the right tools that shouldn’t be enough to disrupt even the lightest sleeper like myself.
My essentials to excellent sleeping conditions in an RV:
- Sleep Mask
- Sound Machine
- Sleep Tracker
- Heated Blanket
1) I use a sleep mask every single night. I used to use one occasionally if I wanted to sleep in a little later than sunrise or if I woke up right before it was time for the sun to rise and I knew I wouldn’t have time to fall back asleep before it came up. Now though, I use one every night. There’s always vehicles pulling in and out of RV parks and headlights shine right in your windows. If you’re a light sleeper like me, this always wakes you up. While not all RVs are like this, ours has frosted glass panels in the doors which in theory LOOK aesthetically pleasing; however, they are not conducive for sleeping before people in the living room are done watching TV. Every flash of a television show or commercial is a flash in your room. It didn’t take long to realize I would need to put the sleep mask on every night as I went to bed in order to get a decent night of sleep.
I’ve tried so many different types of masks and I know how easy it is to buy the classic flat piece of satin sleep mask you see in the movies and in all the stores, but they really aren’t effective. They don’t contour to your face and they stay pretty flat which still lets in a lot of light. While it is better than nothing, I highly recommend an upgraded sleep mask.
My favorite: Manta Sleep Mask
I found this absolute gem of a sleep mask on Kickstarter last year and waited months for it to come out of production. It was well worth the wait and I would wait all over again for this mask. It features modular, memory foam eye contours that you velcro into place at the fit that works for you and your eyes because HELLO not everyone’s eyes are the same distance apart. This was such a genius design that after my first one came and I loved it so much, I ordered two more out of fear that one day I may need a new one and I might not be able to find it. Luckily, I had that because I misplaced my sleep mask one day and had a spare to use until I found the original. Did I mention it is completely adjustable so there’s NO stretch on the strap around your head. It’s velcro so you’ll just adjust it as necessary and sleep away.
While you’re on Manta’s website, you should just go ahead and order these blackout stickers, too. For the occasions when I don’t immediately put my sleep mask on, every-single-little-light bothers me to no end. These little stickers are made to pop right on over all the TV power lights, charging cord lights, and anything else that may be bothering you. If you’re not ready to commit to sleeping with a mask full-time, these are a great first step.
2) My need for a sound machine sleeping is fueled from my parents. I was a light sleeper as a baby so they used a basic white noise machine to drown out the noise during naps and bedtime. It’s something that stuck and now I honestly can’t sleep without it. I’ve tried traveling without one and ended up never falling asleep. I’ve also tried using an app instead of traveling with one and barely slept at all. Now, it doesn’t matter how light I pack when I travel, my sound machine is going with me. White noise is my favorite, but it also isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t used to white noise, it might not be perfect for you at first, but it will definitely help you sleep better once you’re used to it. Using a white noise machine while sleeping blocks out the noises from people walking their dogs outside, cars driving by, a TV on in the other room, people talking, dogs barking (mostly), and any other noise you can think of that isn’t too loud. *Disclaimer – a white noise machine doesn’t block EVERY noise – just most of them – obviously a car crash or a loud dog barking might not be muffled by the sound machine.*
Just like with my sleep mask, I have a favorite sound machine as well. The Lectrofan High Fidelity White Noise Machine doesn’t just give you one white noise and make you stick with it, they give you 20 unique (non-looping) fan and white noise sounds. The white noise that sounds beautiful to your ears may not jive well with mine and that’s why I love this one. My parents sleep with one of these bad boys too, but they sleep with a much different sound than I do. They hate my sound and I hate theirs, but that’s what makes this particular white noise machine so great. It has lots of volume options as well so you can sleep with less or more volume depending on your situation. If you need to hear a baby crying over the noise, then you can sleep with it on a lighter volume, but if you want to drown out your neighbor’s party, you can crank the volume all the way up.
Honestly, you need this in your life. Everyone just needs this.
3) I was suspicious about using a sleep tracker at first. I’m a light sleeper and I toss and turn a lot, but I don’t consider myself awake when I’m in those moments, but I guess I actually am. I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for years, but never really wore it at night for the sleep tracking. I recently started leaving it on at night though and it is incredibly accurate. I always wake up, look at the tracking status bars, and say, “yep, I sure was awake at that point” or “yep, I definitely tossed and turned that much.” So this one is a dual-purpose. I wouldn’t buy a Fitbit solely for the sleep tracking, but if you have a Fitbit, you might as well be tracking your sleep, too. I’m currently using the Fitbit Alta which has a lot of great features, but with the lifestyle we live, I really need a waterproof device so I’m switching to the Fitbit Flex 2.
4) Last, but certainly not least, I sleep with a heated blanket even when it’s hot outside. It makes everything feel warm and cozy so I often find myself cranking up the AC to cool the place off then turning on my heated blanket to cuddle up with. Call me crazy, but I swear it helps me sleep. I’m currently using the this Sunbeam Heated Blanket which has lots of nifty features like 10 different heat settings, an auto-off feature so I can’t forget to turn it off, and a preheat function that lets me warm it up prior to using. I just love this cozy blanket and it comes in all sorts of sizes to fit whichever bed size you may have.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or must-haves for sleeping on the road? Drop me a note in the comments section and let me know your favorite must-haves!