Getting better sleep in your RV is tricky. Road tripping is so exciting it can keep you awake at night. Bright lights at RV parks and campgrounds don’t make it any easier. But these five RV sleep hacks can help. Check out these five ways to enjoy restful sleep wherever you roam.
Remember the first night you tried to sleep in your RV?
You were probably too excited to get some shut-eye. I know that I was! The first days, weeks, and months of trying to sleep in our new fifth wheel were a hazy mix of so-so nights and some bad ones too. Sometimes excessive lighting at RV parks and campgrounds got in the way of a good snooze. Other nights, it felt like our factory mattress was the reason for not getting good sleep in our RV. And then there was our trip to Alaska, when the midnight sun kept us awake way past our bed times.
As time went on and our one year of full-time RVing turned into several, we found these five hacks to get better sleep on the road.
Better RV Sleep Tip #1: Upgrade Your RV Mattress
New RV factory mattresses can be decent. Our RV mattress was like a typical domestic one, with coiled springs for support. The comfort lasted about a year. Then the mattress started sagging and feeling uncomfortable. We switched to a cheap memory foam RV mattress, thinking that was the solution for better rest.
Unfortunately, that low cost RV mattress created an even bigger problem: mildew!
That’s right, we had RV mattress mildew growing on the wood mattress platform, and on the memory foam itself. Yuk! The disgusting discovery led us to a buy a roll of “mattress underlay” material.
A mattress underlay is for boats, RVs, and tiny homes with big humidity problems.
Shipped to customers in a roll, the mattress underlay gets placed on the bed platform to elevate the foam RV mattress. Move your RV mattress up and away from the moisture-trapping wood bed platform, and air flow circulates underneath. More air flow means less humidity build-up.
The RV mattress underlay helped until the memory foam mattress wore out. Fourteen years into full-time RVing, we bit the bullet and did an RV mattress upgrade again. Only this time we spent a few more dollars for a high quality, RV memory foam mattress.
A better RV mattress has made all the difference between a rough night and restful one.
I can’t recommend this RV sleep upgrade enough, especially if you travel with a partner. RV memory foam mattresses feel great and prevent that annoying bed shake when one person rolls over. About the only thing it doesn’t do is stop the other person from snoring!
Better RV Sleep Tip #2: Darken Your RV Windows
Most RVs do not come with day/night RV shades. Why they don’t is beyond me. Making RV windows darker is almost always necessary when you travel. Staying overnight in places with bright lighting (like when you’re Walmart camping) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all want to feel safe at campgrounds and in parking lots. But bright stadium lighting outside the RV is a real sleep killer.
One of the cheapest ways to get better sleep in RVs is with DIY opaque window coverings.
My go-to easy RV window hacks is cut-to-size Reflectix. It’s light, cheap, and you can store them flat underneath your bed. Or, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can also buy opaque curtains and tailor them fit to your windows. Use hook and loop fastener to attach them at night.
Of course, you can invest in RV day/night shades for the quickest way to better sleep. For my fifth wheel, I got a quote for about $800 to install the shades in all of our windows. We have not taken the plunge yet. Have you?
Better RV Sleep Tip #3: Sleep Masks and Ear Plugs
I discovered this hack when we traveled to Alaska one summer. After investing in a high quality sleep mask and ear plugs, I kicked myself for not doing it years ago! There’s something comforting about blocking out most sound and noise at night that makes me fall asleep and stay there. It takes time to get used to the sleep gadgets, but it works well for me.
If you’re worried that a sleep mask and ear plugs will prevent you from hearing strange sounds outside, remember that’s what a traveling dog is for!
Better RV Sleep Tip #4: Choose Your Campsite Carefully
If you are able to choose the campsite you want at an RV park or campground, look up in the sky before deciding on it.
On many occasions we settled into what seemed like the perfect spot. But once nightfall came, stadium-style lighting flooded our rig with brightness. We’ve learned our lessons enough times to remember to look around our potential campsite for any excessive lighting that disrupts sleep in the RV. Many RV campground reviews also tell you if a campground has excessive lighting.
Better RV Sleep Tip #5: Learn Relaxation Techniques
No, I don’t mean sip wine before bed. This all-natural RV sleep hack is far better for you. The only problem is that it’s won’t work the moment you open a relaxation app on your smart phone. Learning how to relax for better sleep takes time and practice. But after several years of doing it myself, I can tell you that the effort is worth the payoff.
Try a quick way to relax with box breathing.
Maybe you want to try yoga nidra deep relaxation techniques.
Or download an app like Headspace to learn to meditate, which promotes better sleep. Any kind of natural relaxation therapy practice you develop eventually leads to more restful nights.
Getting Better Sleep in the RV is Easier
Any time you change up your sleeping location or habits, shut-eye can degrade. But if you have these tools for better RV sleep in your back pocket, you at least have everything it takes to enjoy more good nights than bad ones–even if your perfect campsite has a stadium light right outside your bedroom.
If you have other good RV sleep tips we would love to know about them. Feel free to share in the comments section below.