6 Sleep Aid Devices for Van Life
When it comes to sleeping in a camper van or RV, it can be challenging to get a restful sleep. The confined space, temperature, unfamiliar environment, and noise from the road or other campers can disrupt your shut-eye.
Fortunately, several sleep gadgets can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and generally sleep better in a camper van or RV. We’ve taken a look at some of the best sleep gadgets available on the market to determine which ones are most important for van life sleepers.
Let’s dive in.
White Noise Machines
These devices are incredibly helpful for sleeping throughout the night in a noisy environment. They produce a continuous sound that can help block out background noise and create a more peaceful sleeping environment.
Some models are portable and can be powered by batteries or a USB connection, making them perfect for use in a camper van or RV. Many people like to play the sounds through a Bluetooth speaker, but we also recommend headphones for very noisy places.
Many white noise devices have various noise options to cancel out background noise, from soothing sounds like rain or ocean waves to soothing music or classical music. Some include relaxing sleep stories to help you drift off.
One of the biggest challenges of sleeping in a camper van or RV is the lack of control over light exposure. From street lights and headlights to a full moon beaming through your window, the light coming into your van at night can definitely keep you up.
Brain activity and sleep cycles are greatly affected by light quality, so one bad night can throw off your internal alarm clock and keep you off schedule for many nights following. In fact, using a regular alarm clock can be a great way to get yourself back on track: set an alarm for bedtime and an alarm for waking up and stick to the schedule religiously.
If you have a DIY camper van, or yours didn’t come with window coverings, installing blackout curtains can help block out light and create a darker sleeping environment. If installing blackout curtains is not an option in your van, consider a sleep mask instead.
We personally love Vanmade Gear’s insulated blackout window inserts. Not only do they block out light with a perfect fit, but they also help keep your van cool (or warm) with high-quality insulation.
Comfortable Mattresses and Pillows
Quality comfort is key and will make all the difference in getting a good night’s sleep. Many camper vans and RVs come with mattresses and pillows that are less than ideal, so investing in a high-quality, comfortable set can help you sleep more comfortably and wake up feeling refreshed.
RoamRest knows a little about comfortable mattresses. We offer an extensive range of mattresses designed with both comfort and convenience in mind. From the coverings and trim to the interior padding and shaping, our mattresses are made from the highest quality materials so that you can rest assured that you have the most supportive and comfortable mattress possible.
Some people also find that a weighted blanket helps them to relax and calm down after a busy day. The pressure of a weighted blanket puts your autonomic nervous system into “rest” mode, reducing anxiety and helping you get into a relaxed state.
The Quility blanket is one of the most popular options for van lifers, due to its breathable fabric and ease of cleaning and maintenance.
Sleep Tracking Devices
A sleep tracker can help you monitor your sleep patterns and identify any factors affecting your sleep quality. These devices can provide valuable insights into your sleep habits and help you make changes to improve the quality of your sleep.
This sleep gadget is usually worn on the wrist and contains integrated sensors to track things like body temperature, heart rate, and breathing patterns. A sleep tracker will usually give you an overall sleep score, as well as ways to improve your score to get your best sleep.
Temperature Control Devices
Sleeping in a camper van or RV can be challenging due to fluctuating temperatures. Fortunately, temperature control devices abound for both cold and hot sleepers.
The best thing you can do to ensure your van stays at an ideal temperature for sleep is to invest in good insulation during your buildout. Proper insulation will not only keep your van warm in the winter but will also keep it cool during the summer.
Some of the most popular insulation choices for van lifers doing DIY van conversions are Havelock sheep’s wool, Polyiso foam board, and closed-cell spray foam. Investing in some reflective barriers for the windows and windshield will also do a lot for the internal temperature of your van.
Other options for keeping your van warm include portable propane heaters like the very popular Mr. Buddy or 12v portable diesel heaters like the Wayska. Just make sure before you start powering electric heaters in remote areas that your battery setup is up to the task!
Hot sleepers and those who suffer from night sweats will do well to invest in gel and foam mattress toppers that wick away body heat. There are also lots of 12-volt air conditioners for van life, including the Dometic CoolAir RTX.
Air conditioners do the double duty of keeping you cool and also improving air quality, by improving ventilation and circulation. The downside is that, like heaters, they are power-hungry, so make sure your batteries and solar are up to snuff.
Aromatherapy and Light Therapy
Aromatherapy can be a useful tool for improving sleep quality in a camper van or RV. Certain scents, such as lavender, chamomile, and vanilla, are known for their calming properties and can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Essential oils in either diffusers or sprays can be used in the sleeping area to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.
LED light therapy can be useful in resetting the body’s natural rhythms if your sleep cycle has gotten screwed up. Additionally, avoiding blue light emitted from computer and tablet screens in the hours before bed allows your body to appropriately produce melatonin and prepare for sleep.
There are plenty of all-natural approaches you can take to ensure that you get a deep sleep every night. Simply dimming the light and switching off all electronic devices an hour or so before going to bed does wonders for your sleep quality. Try to plan ahead so you have at least half an hour before bed every night.
In addition, some gentle yoga or meditation before bed can help you sleep better by getting your body to relax and calm down. If yoga and meditation aren’t your things, try some simple breathing exercises, either during your wind-down period or when you first get into bed.
Finally, designating a firm “bedroom” area in your van will help your body to distinguish between work/play time and bedtime. Separate the bedroom in your van from the rest of the van with a simple barrier like a blanket, and light the area with soft light.
Enjoy Sleeping in a Van with the Sleep Aid Device Right for You!
Getting a good night’s sleep in a camper van or RV sometimes requires a little effort, but it’s definitely achievable. Try natural approaches as your first steps: breathing exercises, avoiding blue light, and committing to a “wind-down” period.
If that doesn’t work, investing in the right sleep aid devices can be pretty handy. Weighted blankets, aromatherapy oils, proper insulation, gel foam mattresses, and portable heaters or air conditioners will go a long way toward helping you fall asleep fast, get your best sleep, and wake up feeling rested and refreshed.