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better sleeping when camping - sleep naked or not?


  • the hiking world is divided on whether it is best to sleep naked or not when camping
  • exposed skin on a healthy resting adult person becomes too cool and uncomfortable when air chill temperatures drop below 19-20degC (most comfort for a resting person is 22-24degC), and you are likely to start shivering if chill temperature drops below 15degC
  • one can sleep semi-naked or naked under a light quilt comfortably (such as a Sea to Summit Ember II - rated to “2degC” with clothes on) down to around 12-13degC, but at lower temperatures need either:
    • something to keep your head and feet warm (eg. socks and a thin beanie or similar)
    • heating to keep a small sealed tent warm, or,
    • an additional thermal sleeping bag liner, or,
    • a warmer quilt/sleeping bag, or,
    • start layering up with clothes
  • on hot nights, it can be difficult to sleep unless you can cool down, suggestions include:
    • minimal or no clothing
    • getting off the ground by using a stretcher which allows air flow underneath
    • as much ventilation as possible - the more mesh instead of fabric for your shelter the better (No-See-Um mesh is smaller weave and will reduce air flows so you will need to way up whether you need this or not)
    • consider a camp fan
    • consider sleeping under a wet sarong or similar

Pros of sleeping without clothing

  • don't need to carry extra weight of night clothes when hiking
  • don't need to sleep in dirty or wet hiking clothes that really need some airing
  • reduced skin pressure points from clothing creases and joins when lying on a firm “bed”
  • reduced risk of prickly heat rash from your body overheating in a sleeping bag
  • mental health self-care - a good night sleep is more important than worrying about PJs or no PJs
  • reduced sweatiness and resultant cold or fungal skin infections from overheating in a sleeping bag
  • more options for temperature control giving more comfortable sleep as long as you don't get too cold and shiver - you may need to layer up as the temperature drops overnight
  • breathe easier: your 100W body heat output can be used to warm the air inside the tent if ventilation is kept low and if not sleeping inside a sleeping bag.
    • Instead of all that heat being trapped in your sleeping bag giving you a hot body but very cold airways (you will need to lie on a thermal heated cushion if temperatures fall below 15degC otherwise you will shiver)
    • you can feel a bull ant crawling on you far earlier and you can take more gentle and guided actions to remove it without blindly getting it aggressive and stinging you
  • live longer - improved body metabolism, insulin sensitivity, cold acclimatisation and improved levels of brown fat stores
    • sleeping cool not only helps you get off to sleep but doing it over a few nights increases the amount of beneficial brown fat stores rich in mitochondria and ability to burn fat and reduce overall obesity (if you don't over-eat to compensate) while providing improved cold tolerance - a win-win outcome
    • exposing people to 6 hours of 15°C for 10 days significantly increased energy expenditure and was also associated with a 37% increase in brown fat
    • Excursions to ambient conditions below the thermo-neutral zone (TNZ) (ie. for a resting naked body, below ambient temperatures of 21-26degC depending upon level of cold acclimitisation) can increase energy expenditure and improve glucose metabolism, and subsequently may reduce susceptibility to obesity and Diabetes type 2 1)
    • of course, exposure to very cold air below minus 15degC will risk frostbite and hypothermia so they need to be covered in freezing conditions

Cons of sleeping without PJs

  • your skin oils will build up on your quilt or sleeping bag - so you really should be using a sleeping bag liner to minimise this
  • you may still need to layer up if conditions get cold eg. ambient temperatures fall below 12-18degC
    • alternatively, a 12V thermal cushion under you and a quilt on top with warm socks will generally allow minimal layering for temperatures down to around 5degC as a thermal cushion plus a naked body in a thermally closed tent without ventilation will allow air temperatures to be 5-9degC warmer than outside temperatures
australia/sleeping_naked.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/09 20:36 by gary1

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