Before I took my hike on the AT. I took an over the counter sleeping pill to help me sleep. I have done this for years. For a while this worked, calmed and kept me sleeping through the night. Then, my body adjusted to this medication & I felt I needed more to sleep well. I felt out of control. I was ready to let go of bad habits, return to a more natural pattern of living, that’s why I choose to hike.
Sleeping on the trail, was tough. One would think after a hike that one’s body would be so tired sleep would occur. I can’t say for me it happened. My hiking buddy & I choose sleeping mats we could also use as yoga mats. On the trail almost everyone had air mats. I’m old enough to remember camping with air mattress that were not nice. Moonbow, a really sweet young woman, cured me of any misconceptions. She touted how comfortable and warm her air mattress was. She let me try her mat. Whoa-how nice, like sleeping on a cloud.
Sleep really did not happen for me till I slept in our 1st hotel room. The room was damp, and the bed was not particularly comfy, but I slept soundly all night. It occurred to me that perhaps being comfortable, having just the right temperature, a perfect “not too soft, not too hard” bed, is not necessarily the key to a good night’s sleep. So what is?
Walking out of the woods, any hiker feels a bit disconnected with all the noise of “normal” life. Dazed by how fast everyone & everything are moving. Funny, but I felt like I’d been to a heavy duty yoga seminar. I felt calm, not concerned with anything.
That’s when I begin to sleep well.
I resolved to stay off pills, get enough exercise, drink enough water, and lay off caffeine & alcohol, and get outside a few hours-every day.