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Imagine sleeping under a starlit night sky!

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Being outdoors is great for your physical, mental and social health. Our stress hormones are reduced even by just looking at a picture of the outdoors and even greater by actually going out into nature. By being out in nature you are naturally inclined to more physical activity as there are no escalators, cars or other ways to get around. The surface is also varied and challenging which affects our co-ordination and balance in a positive way. Being out in a calming natural environment also promotes our social wellbeing.


Obviously, you don’t have to sleep outside to reap all the positive effects, but if you are curious I can only encourage you to try. Besides the positive effects listed above, I can guarantee that it will become a memorable adventure.


What are the alternatives for sleeping outside? For first time sleepers I would recommend a  tent as it is both easy and safe. Another alternative could be to see if you can find a pre-built wind protection often listed on trail maps. Here you will almost always find a small fireplace and sometimes even some leftover firewood. But remember, others may have the same idea so it’s good to have a back-up plan.


To sleep in a hammock is another alternative. A hammock is easy to set-up, but does require two trees to attach to. In most cases when you buy a hammock you also get a so-called tarp that you can attach above the hammock which protects you from rain but also makes it a bit warmer to sleep. If the weather looks promising, I would however recommend to sleep without the tarp so you can see and experience the night sky. Seeing the stars above the top of the trees as the last thing before going to sleep is a magical experience.

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You can also sleep directly on a mattress on the ground. Here you could also use a tarp for some protection from wind and rain and/or a mesh tent to protect from mosquitos and other insects.


Other tips to think about when sleeping outdoors: 

  • Don’t over complicate things. You don’t need to go that far, there are forests and nature reserves closer than you think.

  • Do some reconnaissance by going where you plan to sleep ahead of time and check it out with your “sleeping outside” glasses on.

  • Make sure to start setting up your sleep area with plenty of time until sunset. Make a note of where the sun will go up and down. Waking up to a sunrise is also a magical experience.

  • If there are lots of rocks, roots, pinecones etc. clear the sleeping area in daylight if you plan to sleep on the ground. If using a hammock, maybe a thin sleeping mat in it is a good idea to make it more comfortable.

  • Prepare all your food ahead of time by f.ex. chopping, pre-cooking, making dough at home or whatever you plan to eat. Dare to go “luxurious”!

  • Be at least three people and it will feel safer and easier (as well as more fun).

  • Don’t bring too much. For most of us it’s become a sport to pack as little as possible, especially if you are planning a longer hike. But if you are a beginner and planning to sleep not too far from your car, use it as a base camp for your gear making everything much easier.



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About the author Anna

Challengize health tips are specially written for you by Anna Tengblad. Anna has a  bachelor's degree in sports science, human biology and sports pedagogy with over 25 years’ experience of working with sports, training and proactive health. She is also author of the book "Girls Night Out - 12 nights outside of Stockholm’s concrete jungle".

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