Successfully Sleep Under the Stars

Why should kids in summer camp have all the fun? If you're looking for a refreshing change in your routine, one that may give you better rest and a happier outlook, you should consider spending a night or two out under the stars communing with nature.

Sleeping outside, although not a common practice in modern America, has a long history. A century ago, many health practitioners recommended sleeping outdoors. Many homes in hot, humid climates were built with sleeping porches, as air conditioning was not yet available, and certain upscale resorts offered outdoor sleeping arrangements to guests. But people lower on the economic scale took advantage of the outdoor air, too; those living crowded together in urban tenement buildings often slept on fire escapes or roofs to escape not only their apartments' crushing heat but the risk of contracting diseases such as tuberculosis, that flourished in close quarters.

In other parts of the world, sleeping outside remains fairly common—and not only in warm weather. A recent study in Finland examined parents' opinions and experiences letting their babies nap outside during winter, a common practice in parts of the country. The researchers found that parents felt outdoor napping was positive and reported their babies napped longer when outside, even though many of them had cold noses.

One great thing about sleeping outside is that it costs very little. Depending on your property, you might feel very safe taking a sleeping bag outside into the backyard. Or you could investigate local campgrounds. No matter where you decide to spend the night, here are some things you might need:

Sleeping Bag

It may be fairly warm when you go to sleep, but temperatures can drop in the middle of the night, even in summer. Consider bringing an extra blanket. If you like the feeling of a bit of shelter, pitch a tent.


You won't be able to roll over and turn on a lamp like you would indoors, and you may need to get to a toilet or outhouse, find your water bottle, or reach for the extra blanket you brought.

Bug Repellent

If mosquito netting is impractical, consider dousing yourself in bug spray before turning in. You can also buy nets just for your head.




Charlie Hailey, "From Sleeping Porch to Sleeping Machine: Inverting Traditions of Fresh Air in North America." Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review. 2009. Vol. XX, no.11.

Tourula M, Isola A, Hassi J. (2009). "Children Sleeping Outdoors in Winter: Parents' Experiences of a Culturally Bound Childcare Practice." International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 67(2-3), 269-278.

Camille Avena. "Tenement Houses and Progressive Solutions." Fordham University. Web.