Intro: The Ecstasy of Sleeping Outside Under the Stars
Imagine if you will, how spectacular it would be to fall asleep under a billion stars every night. Take a deep breath of fresh outside air, and then another, and know you are one with the universe. And imagine how absolutely spectacular it would be, to open your eyes in the morning and the first thing you see is a beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Surely it's a dream, isn't it?
Let's make it a reality. Sleeping outside under the stars is incredible, and it is amazingly beneficial to your health and well being. This is NOT about camping. It is about sleeping outside, no tent, every night, at your home.
Google "sleeping outside health" for about 11 million reasons WHY. In this instructable, you are going to find guidelines on HOW. We can do this!
Step 1: EVALUATE
Hopefully you did some on-line research about WHY. Now we need to look at feasibility. Things to consider;
1. Weather. Will you enjoy being outside all night in the current weather conditions? Too hot, too cold, too humid?
2. Is it safe. Will you be sufficiently safe from people and or animals, both large and small?
3. Will you be, or can you make yourself safe from bugs, both crawling and flying?
4. What is the noise level outside? (Years ago I found a perfect grassy camping spot at the base of a 12 foot embankment. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, I learned that on top of the berm, there were tracks, for humongously long, fast freight trains.)
5. Is it sufficiently dark? What about streetlights, car headlights, or other visual distractions?
6. What about privacy?
7. Do you have the desire?
Step 2: Where to Put Your Outside Bed?
If you have a covered porch, the decision is already made, maybe. If you have a deck behind or beside your house, that might be a better choice for privacy reasons. I like sleeping right next to the house. it just feels like there's a bit of security and protection from surprises.
The sun comes up in the East. Not the best choice unless you are a super early riser. My preference is the West side but your possible bed location may be dictated by many factors
Step 3: Get a Little High
Sleeping on the ground, on an air mattress, in a tent, for a couple of days, is okay. But for long-term sleeping under the stars, it's best to be well off of the ground, in a solid, very comfortable bed that is nominally, normal bed height. Keep it simple and cheap until you decide you want to upgrade.
I happen to have an elevated platform about 2 feet high. I also had an old solid core door. I rounded off the corners with a circular saw and belt sander and used that to make my bed frame. Be creative and cheap because you're not sure yet if you're going to like this or not. Half inch plywood on top of six or eight 5 gallon buckets will work as a "test bed".
Step 4: Mattress
An air mattress, big or small, will work for a one or two night test. However, you need something much more comfortable than that for long-term. My choice is 4 pieces of egg crate mattress toppers. This gives just the right amount of support and firmness for me. There are lots of other choices, just make sure that your outside bed is as comfortable as your inside bed.
Step 5: Sheets
To be going to sleep in this every night, the bed clothing should be what you're used to. For me it is plain old ordinary cotton sheets. If you normally sleep on silk, or 600 thread cotton, go for it. We are shooting for absolute comfort. This must not be "roughing it" in any way whatsoever. The objective is to create the most wonderful space and conditions possible for yourself.
Step 6: Blanket
Now you have to evaluate the weather situation. What is appropriate, no blanket, light blanket, heavy blanket, quilt, down comforter, you pick it. I'm partial to velour blankets. My bed is 36 inches wide so I took a queen-size blanket, folded it lengthwise, and sewed it all the way around. That makes it plenty long and plenty wide. It is also a bit overly warm on summer nights and often it gets kicked off the bed.
In the winter I use a sleeping bag instead of the blanket. You'll have to evaluate your own safety, comfort and weather.
Step 7: Daytime Protection
Since your bed is outside, you have to protect it from the elements in the daytime. I started off covering my bed with heavy plastic sheeting (Visqueen) but now use a heavy-duty tarp. Since my deck is dark brown, I selected an 8' x 10' dark brown tarp. To make it super heavy duty, I folded it to 5' x 8' and zip tied the eyelets together. Two corners ended up without eyelets and I added a tarp clamp on those corners so I could tie them down.
I tied the corners at the foot of the bed to the frame so they are attached "permanently". I use a bungee cord at the head of the bed because this is undone nightly.
Step 8: A Place for Your Night Time Stuff
Since you're sleeping outside, you might want a few things closer, like water, flashlight, phone, alarm clock, a book, etc. Therefore you need a place to put them. I had a nice little round, end table but I found things kept falling off it. So, I built a tray with edges all around to keep things from falling off. However, the tray stays outside all the time, and therefore when it rains, the tray would fill up with water. Recognizing this in advance, I put spacers under one rail edge so the water always drains out of the tray and away from the bed.
Step 9: Necessary Accessories
You will probably need earplugs and an eye mask. On night number one, it was very obvious that both the birds and the sun get up before I do. I prefer the E. A. R. Earplugs. They are slightly harder foam and I think they work much better than the very soft bullet shaped earplugs. Your choice. Ear plugs are available in all drug stores and big box stores.
Assuming you don't want to get up with the sun, you will also need a serious sleeping eye mask. Those flimsy things you see on, or get from, the airlines just won't cut it. You need a good, heavy duty sleeping eye mask with a thick elastic strap. You're going to be using this every single night, for a long time. Check eBay.
Step 10: Mosquitoes?
Mosquito nets are available on eBay for cheap. Personally, I'm one of the lucky people who are seldom bitten by mosquitoes. I have a mosquito net as you see in the photo above but I don't use it. This is just for show and tell. It is stored in a bag under the bed "just in case". Being realistic, there is a possibility of other bugs, like ants or whatever. This is not been a significant problem for me, but something I might suggest is spraying the tarp that covers the bed as well as spraying under and around the bed.
Step 11: Hard-core?
I have a nice comfortable queen size bed inside and and I used to sleep in it when there was the threat of rain. However, I have found sleeping outside under the stars to be such an incredibly wonderful experience that I have become a hard-core outdoor sleeper and have modified my set up so I can sleep outside even during a thunderstorm. This may be over the top for you. I'll explain what I have done just in case you become a hard-core outdoor sleeper too.
I tie up the corner of the tarp at the wall/head of the bed. The tarp is actually long enough to extend about a foot beyond the end of the bed which is sufficient to protect me from the rain. And it sounds really neat when it's raining, even with earplugs. I like the sound much better than rain on a tin roof, which is way too loud. You can see that my cat is very comfortable inside the tarp protected bed.
While the tarp does a spectacular job of keeping the rain off, it also blocks the wind and it can get a little stuffy under the tarp. Therefore, I have a small fan attached to the wall that provides adequate circulation. See top right in the last photo above.
Step 12: The BEGINNING
So, we have come to the end of the indestructible and I hope I covered enough to inspire you to give this a try. I have found that sleeping outside is absolutely transformational. I sleep better, feel far more refreshed, and have a much better outlook on the start, and end, of every single day. Before going to sleep, try the four – seven – eight breathing exercise recommended by Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz, and five deep breaths right after you open your eyes in the morning. Your rest will be positively amazing.
I send you wishes of bright starry nights, calm restful breezes, blue sky in the morning, spectacular health and a metamorphose into a new, glorious, and wonderful chapter in your life.
Aloha nui loa,