Ah! It was another beautiful day of long hiking. The last galloping trail is still fresh in the heart. The mind is fully contented with the natural craft and magical sunset shades. Now body starts imagining for a comfy sleeping bag inside the warm tent.
It’s how the mind functions for most of the trekkers after the end of the day after the long hiking session. A wise trekker knows that sleep is equally essential to keep up the performance at high altitude.
Yes. It is also considered to be a skill, and it is crucial.
There are few things to be considered as cardinal factors to sleep like a fortunate trekker –
- Know what is right for you and what types of the trail you are
- Tricks to improve your body conditioning with nature
- Comfortable sleeping gear
Before the solution, let’s enlighten a bit on the cause of sleeplessness on the high altitude.
Higher altitude impacts on the body for various reasons. One of the main culprits is lack of oxygen. Oxygen level remains almost 20% in the sea level, and it is reduced to 13% above 3600 meters. So you have to inhale more frequently to supply the necessary oxygen to your blood. This rapid breathing releases more carbon-di-oxide in your blood than average condition. Due to this adjustment of periodic breathing, the sleep pattern is disturbed. Sometimes, if you are affected with Altitude Mountain Sickness, it also affects your sleep pattern.
What to do?
First, understand the basics of sleeping gear required –
Air Mattress and Air Pad –
When hiking is your few days affair with nature, don’t forget to take an air mattress. A full air mattress is ideal if you are going for the local camping in the car. These air mattresses are heavy but comfortable. If you are a hiker, it is not a good option for you. It’s far better to use an air pad. These air pads are light weighted and easily packed in your rucksack. Modern air pads are conveniently wrapped in the side of a rucksack.
A down sleeping bag is mandatory
When you are at high altitude, the temperature falls drastically in the night. Therefore, however you may sweat during the day, the night will chill your bone. You desperately need a warm sleeping bag for a sound sleep. Keep in mind; the sleeping bag is not placed on any damped surface. Even the camping blankets are better alternative for a sound sleep at high altitude.
Now let’s come to the points –
Proper Acclimatization is the key to sleep
Poor acclimatization is the greatest villain in the high altitude trekking adventure. Improper acclimatization triggers a lot of uncomfortable physical reactions which wipes out the fun of trekking. Naturally, it also affects your sleeping. If you are hit with acute mountain sickness, your sleeping will be positively impacted. The wise decision is to cope up your body with the environment. Spend more time out of the tent when you have reached at your destination at high altitude for the day. Many trekkers enter into the tent immediately after a long fatigue day. Don’t do that. Your body also needs the time to acclimatize with the altitude you have gained. You should offer that time to your body. Then you don’t face any problem of sleeping at all.
Drink enough fluids
While trekking you are losing enough of fluids due to sweating. This dehydration can cause your sleep apnea due to the lack of producing body chemicals for sleeping. Not only sweating but also with rapid breathing your body fluid is evaporated. So drink a lot of water while trekking in a day. Drinking alcohol is absolutely no no. Alcohol or caffeinated beverages will dehydrate your body very first. One more trekking hack is that you should not open your mouth while breathing. It causes more loss of fluid.
Food cannot be ignored
At high altitude your digestive system is impacted. So consuming a heavy meal at dinner may tax to your digestive system. Try to avoid high sugar, protein, or fat diet at night. Try to eat your dinner at 7 p.m. and go to bed at 9 pm.
Do not skip your meal as it is the fuel that runs the engine throughout the day. If you do not have enough energy for this rigorous trekking exercise, you can suffer acidity, nausea or blackout and disturbed sleep.
Keep your mobile away
The mobile device is an entertainer during a day. But at night when you are sleeping keep your mobile at bay. Light from your mobile device stimulates your brain. It affects your sleep. So try to switch it off an hour ago before you sleep. That makes you sleep better.
Use nasal spray
The nasal spray is one of the essential hygiene tips for a good night sleep. While hiking in the day, lot of dust enters into the nostril, and it impacts on smooth breathing. The nasal spray is beneficial for those who suffer from breathing problem due to nasal congestion. Taking one or two drops of nasal spray before sleeping will surely give you comfort.
Sleeping posture matters
Sleeping posture plays a pivotal role. After eating a large meal, when you are lying down instantly can cause heartburn and acidity. Wrong sleeping posture will hamper your sleep. Sleeping on the back may cause acidity into your stomach which causes the windpipe to contract. It can cause shortness of breath, burping, cough etc. The best solution is to use your backpack or a few clothes to create a pillow for you. Keep in mind that your head should be elevated 15 to 20-degree angle from your body. It helps you to breathe better.
Dry sleep is warm sleep
After a long day of hiking, a good rest can drive away all your tiredness. Before your camping ensure that tents are not pitched on a damp surface. Along with that, you need to change your sweat-drenched clothes and underwear before sleeping. They will spread a lousy smell into your sleeping bag, and your sleep will be disrupted. You can use dry-bags to be safe side.
Spray out the bugs
Buzzing bugs around you are the most annoying part. Sometimes the flies and bugs congest in the camping area. Few of them can find their way into your tent and make your life hell for rest of the night. Try to stay away from any swamps or ponds and don’t use any fragrance. Perfumes mixed with your body smell magnates the mosquito. You can use some bug repellent to stay away from them
All the points above will assist you for sound sleep on a high altitude. Above all, try to adjust with the atmosphere and habituate your body to acclimatize better. After gaining a height, open up ears and nose to accommodate the wind pressure inside and outside of your body. The more you embrace nature, nature will take care to make your sleep like a baby.
Bio: I am Debojyoti. I am from India. I am an avid trekker and mountain lover. Presently, I am a co-editor of a blog www.trekkingwhiz.com