It’s now a well-known fact that many people don’t get enough sleep. In recent years this has got worse because we are all looking at laptops, tablets and smartphones all day long. This kind of activity interferes with your body’s natural ‘wind down’ process. Other factors such as medical problems, noise, temperature variations can all add to sleep difficulties. All of this is bad enough for people at home alone or with their partner in their own bedroom, but what about in a motorhome?
In a motorhome you may be sharing your ‘bedroom’ with other family members or friends. Even if you sleep soundly your cohabitants may not. Snoring is often a problem, especially when your fellow campers have been enjoying a few extra holiday drinks! Children usually sleep very well in motorhomes, but there is always a possibility that they may wake up disorientated. Using the toilet in the night is never going to be as private as it is in your own home either.
Weather can interrupt your sleep too. On a windy night a motorhome can rock from side to side slightly which can be an unusual sensation. Extreme temperatures are always difficult to deal with. In very hot climates you may not want to sleep with the windows open because of mosquitos, although most modern motorhomes have excellent flyscreens that can be used to keep the beasties out. Super cold temperatures are no fun either, but most modern motorhomes have efficient and relatively quiet heating systems. At home you can probably sleep through heavy rain almost unaware. In a motorhome you are going to hear every drop of rain. Intense electric storms can be a lot of fun to experience in a motorhome, but they are not really conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Noise from other campers can be a problem, but it’s not just people that make a noise. We have been kept awake by barking dogs in Spain more often than party revellers. Even in Buckinghamshire we were kept awake all night by a field of turkeys. Maybe this was because it was October and the turkeys had some idea of how they were going to spend Christmas Day!
Here are some suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep in a motorhome:
Choose the right size of motorhome
One of the mistakes we often see is that people choose a motorhome that is too small for their needs. Although a couple can merrily travel and sleep in a 2/3 berth Chausson Flash 02, if you have lots of sports equipment it may be worth thinking about something a little larger. For families with two adults and two children the 6 berth Chausson Flash 03 is ideal. This means that the children can go to sleep in the rear bunks before the adults. You can still use the table area whilst winding down and when you are ready, sleep in the overcab bed. This makes bedtime a much more peaceful routine.
Select your campsites carefully
Rather than relying on a few photographs and a description written by the campsite owners, find out what it the facilities are really like. You can do this by looking at reviews on Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Facebook Groups. Don’t get put off by one or two bad reviews if there are plenty of good ones to outweigh them. Some people make it their life objective to always find something to moan about, ignore them, the rest of us know that life is for living, not complaining. It’s always well worth looking on Google Maps to see what is around that could be annoying at night time. I’d suggest looking at the satellite view as well as the standard map view to get an idea.
Most campsites in the UK have rules about noise after nightfall and the majority of campers respect this. In our experience this has also been the case in France too. Spain tends to be a little more relaxed though, particularly at weekends and Spain’s school holidays. If you choose to wild camp you can choose a quiet spot. Tucking yourself away in a quiet car park can be very peaceful, but a motorway service station car park may not be so good. Earplugs may be an option if there is noise you simply can’t get away from.
Don’t be put off by the sound of the sea
Camping near the sea can be very comforting for many people. Waking up to the sound of seagulls can be a lovely natural way to wake up bright and early in the morning. In a full on storm this may be not so good though. The sound of a river is different though, to some it may be comforting, to others it may just make them want to go to the toilet!
Make sure the motorhome is level
You can use your motorhome levelling ramps to achieve a level motorhome. Not only does this make the fridge work properly, it also stops things rolling off flat surfaces and adds to your general comfort. Most of us sleep in a very flat horizontal bed and our bodies are very good at detecting when something is not quite right. A level bed gives a much better sleeping experience.
From our experience of hiring a motorhome even if the bed mattresses are comfortable sometimes the pillows provided are very basic. It can often help you to sleep better if you bring your own favourite pillow from home. This especially applies to children who can snuggle up with their pillows during long hours on the road too.
Temperature and ventilation
It’s quite easy for a motorhome to become too stuffy at night time if ventilation is poor. Using the skylight vents is a perfect way to keep a reasonable airflow without unnecessary draughts. If you are using a motorhome in the winter, the temptation is to turn the heating up high so that you feel cosy. This is not usually advisable as it can make the air too dry and cause sore throats. Keeping the temperature at about 17c is usually sufficient for most people.
Find out more about the benefits of sleep
There are plenty of websites that have excellent information about getting better sleep. One of my favourites is Sleep Junkie. At Sleep Junkie you can learn about your sleeping patterns and how to increase the amount and quality of the sleep you get.
Find out about how you sleep each night
Recently I have decided to track my sleep patterns using my Garmin Vivosmart HR activity tracker. I’m not planning on wearing this tracker every night, but so far I have noticed some interesting things. The Garmin activity tracker monitors your heartrate and movement during the night. In the morning you can synchronise it with the Garmin Connect app on your phone or the Garmin Connect website. You can then see some graphs of how you slept. The graphs show awake periods, light sleep and deep sleep. Deep sleep should be about 20% of your total sleep time.
Deep sleep is extremely important for recharging and repairing your body. I’ve noticed on days when I have done little exercise and/or drank alcohol before going to bed, I have very little deep sleep. A motorhome holiday is ideal for getting plenty of exercise like cycling and walking. The temptation with exercise is to reward yourself with a few drinks in the evening. If you do this, it might help your sleep if you have a few alcohol-free hours before going to bed.
If you have any tips of your own for sleeping comfortably in a motorhome, please comment below.