After sleeping nearly 500 nights in our 26-foot travel trailer, I think we might be able to give you a few good RV sleep tips based on our experiences (and mistakes).
Some of these tips are super simple to take advantage of right away and will cost you absolutely nothing.
Others will cost you just a few bucks and make a world of difference.
And yes, there are some tips that involve spending some decent cash to improve your RV experience overall. Which ones you decide make sense is completely up to you, but you owe it to yourself to check them all out and give yourself the best chance of improving your sleep in your RV.
11 RV Sleep Tips: Get a Great Night’s Sleep While You Adventure
1st Tip — Switch Your Climate Control System Fan to ON instead of AUTO
If there is one thing that has been completely consistent in our bedroom throughout our 23-year marriage, it’s the presence of a fan while we sleep. To be more precise, I should say AT LEAST one fan.
In most cases, we have had a ceiling fan above the bed in the many places we have lived through those years. That ceiling fan has been crucial for helping us sleep comfortably with adequate airflow in the bedroom. Because when it gets stuffy, we tend to get grumpy. We have also had a second smaller fan in the bedroom for most of that 23 years to add some white noise and improve our sleep.
(**Interesting fact: In Korea, they believe you will likely die if you sleep with a fan running in your bedroom. Yup, check it out for yourself.**)
But when we moved into our 26-foot travel trailer, believe it or not we didn’t have a single ceiling fan. Not in the bedroom. Not in the living area. Nowhere. (Shocking, I know.) We were somewhat certain we would die without this essential element in our lives.
Amazingly, after 17 months in that travel trailer, we actually found that we slept great most nights (not during the stormy ones).
You’d Be SHOCKED How Many People Don’t Know This
And the number one reason we slept well? We realized we needed to switch the Climate Control Fan to ON instead of AUTO so that the fan would run constantly through the night and not switch off and on repeatedly as the temperature fluctuated.
For us, this helped immensely with both airflow and white noise at the same time. We did survive without a ceiling fan or smaller fan in our bedroom, and we absolutely experienced some of the best sleep of our lives while on the road in that tiny adventure capsule.
2nd Tip — Add Small Fans As Necessary to Improve Airflow and Introduce White Noise
In our travel trailer, having the Climate Control Fan running constantly was the single most important factor for keeping the master bedroom comfortable. But for our kids in the bunks, it was a little different story.
Sure, we always made sure that we have the ceiling vents pointing toward their bunks so they could get as much airflow as possible and stay comfortable through the night, especially in the hot summer months. That didn’t quite cut it, however, with the more enclosed bunk areas where air can get stagnant.
Instead, we ended up using a compact but powerful fan like this pointed at the bunk area to keep the bunk temperatures manageable and add a little more white noise. Our boys still had some nights in the middle of the Texas summer that weren’t ideal, but the extra airflow especially made a big difference on the vast majority of the nights.
3rd Tip — “Triple Up” to Control Light Invasion
When you’re sleeping in an RV park or campground, sunlight isn’t the only light you need to be concerned with in order to improve your sleep.
The fact is that you are far more likely to be disturbed by headlights flashing into your RV and bedroom than by sunlight or other sources of light. Obviously, you will experience more traffic through your average RV park and the headlights from that traffic are far more likely to point straight into your window than they would be in a traditional home.
So the first recommendation of this “triple treat” is to double up on your windows by adding some heavier and darker-colored blackout curtains in the bedroom in addition to the blinds that likely came standard in your rig. This will help to greatly reduce the amount of light pollution that makes its way into your sleeping space.
But the other typical source of light that you may not be prepared to deal with is from large street lights sometimes present in RV parks and campgrounds. On more than one occasion, we have had one of these blindingly bright lights situated right above our rig and shining into the skylight. This can cause a pretty significant sleep disturbance for more light-sensitive sleepers.
One Very Simple Solution
Guess what! There’s a pretty easy and inexpensive fix available that rounds out our “Triple Up” approach to controlling light: the Camco Vent Insulator .
For just a few bucks, you can quickly and easily block out all light that normally comes in through your RV vents. As a bonus, this item will also help to keep your RV cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months as it blocks sunlight and airflow. (During the stormy nights when the strong winds would rattle that vent cover, this probably would have reduced noise inside as well and helped us sleep a bit better.)
Just to be clear, this insulator item is simply snugged up into the vent space from the inside of the rig. You don’t have to climb on top of your rig to add or remove this sleep-friendly item.
So with one product that’s about the price of a nice cheeseburger, you can help to control light, temperature and noise inside your RV.
Do yourself a favor and “triple up” on these sleep-saving items in your RV. But one warning: If you’re at a pretty quiet RV park, these light reduction tips could have you sleeping all day!
BONUS: If it works for you, you could also consider a sleep mask as a way to control light disturbances. This would most likely be the least expensive way to make a positive change in your sleep, and these sleep masks have come a long way recently! Most of them are now designed to not actually touch your eyelids or eyelashes, avoiding irritation and helping you to sleep even better while blocking out light. Something to think about as you adventure…
4th Tip — Ensure Stabilizing Jacks are Properly Extended After Leveling and Deploying Slides and Awning
We have gone through the set-up and tear down steps for our travel trailer dozens and dozens of times, believe me. And we got pretty good at it, even to the point that other RVers would comment that we looked like a Nascar pit crew out there. (Awww shucks…)
However, there was one small detail that seemed to get me over and over and over again during our travels: Those dang stabilizer jacks.
(Hint: When the stabilizer jacks are not properly adjusted, it can make a huge difference in how much that RV rocks and how well you sleep as a result.)
No, I don’t think we ever completely forgot to put the stabilizer jacks down (ours were manual). I did, however, routinely forgot to check them and adjust them after we were all set up and the large slide was deployed. (In case you weren’t aware of this yet, you should always have those jacks down before deploying your slide to avoid potentially expensive damage to the slide mechanics.)
Don’t underestimate how much the RV can shift
You’d be surprised how much the position of the RV can shift with that slide out, the awning out and with all items inside the RV rearranged after travel. So always be sure to take an extra minute and double check that your stabilizing jacks are firmly and securely braced against the ground. This will reduce the number of times you are disturbed when your kids are tossing and turning in their beds at the other end of the RV. (Ask me how I know…)
5th Tip — Invest In X-Chocks IF They Are Compatible with Your RV
When I was neck deep in researching all of the RV accessories I needed to hit the road full-time, I am across a unique product that I sincerely wanted to purchase: The X-Chock Wheel Stabilizer by BAL RV Products.
From all of the reviews that I was reading online, it sounded like this simple but ingenious product provided a huge increase in rig stability and decreased the level of disturbance we would experience with people walking around the travel trailer.
However, after doing some additional research, I had a terrible realization: My travel trailer’s axles were set WAY too far apart for this product to work.
I happened to purchase a 2017 Keystone Passport 2670BH travel trailer, which had a gap between the tires of about 17 inches. This product could only handle a gap of 10 inches maximum. Gah.
In desperation, I searched far and wide to try and find a comparable product that was designed for my type of rig with the larger gap, but I had absolutely no luck and gave up.
If you have a rig with tires that are set closer together, you should go check out this product and read the great reviews it has gotten. To me, it sounds like a night and day difference in overall sleep quality.
6th Tip — Site Selection Matters…Consider Traffic Flow
Do you remember how I mentioned up in Tip #3 that headlights could be a major disturbance to your sleep in an RV park or campground?
Well the truth is that traffic through an RV park in general can have a significant impact not just on your overall experience but on your sleeping experience as well.
During our travels, whenever possible we found a site a little bit “off the beaten path” and off of the main thoroughfares through the park. If I could find a spot on a small loop, especially at the end of that loop, I knew that we would have fewer disturbances to our sleep and have on all-around better experience at that location.
Overall, this approach to site selection truly gave us a better RVing experience and absolutely improved the quality of our sleep during our travels.
7th Tip — Make Sure Your Bedding Is Appropriate for the Season
Look, I’m pretty much a cheapskate in most areas, folks. I don’t like spending money on items that I am not convinced are really necessary or significantly beneficial to me or my family.
And since I’m a dude, bedding is certainly not an area that I would normally ever think about spending extra money unless absolutely necessary. I mean, if that comforter on my bed is too heavy I can just throw it off and sleep fine, right??
I wanted to believe that was true, because I really didn’t want to spend the money on more RV bedding when the temperatures started warming up again for us. But as much as I hate to admit it, when my wife bought a thinner and lighter weight spread for our RV bed we both immediately noticed a positive difference in our sleep quality.
At the end of the day, this is a pretty small price to pay for a better night’s sleep in your RV. And better sleep means better adventure! So don’t be a cheapskate like me…invest in your sleep and in your health.
BONUS: This brushed microfiber sheet set might be the perfect addition to a new spread for the bed. It’s one of the most popular options out there.
8th Tip — Consider a Mattress Topper FIRST For Your RV Bed
I’ll admit something to you here: When we realized (very quickly) that our RV bed was not going to cut it for us as-is, I never really considered buying a new RV mattress.
No, I immediately began looking at and comparing mattress toppers instead. Why? Because I assumed the topper would be far less expensive than a completely new mattress. I mean, I had bought plenty of new mattresses in my life and I knew they weren’t cheap. But I am…so I didn’t even look that direction.
Before hitting the road, we bought a 3-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress from Costco similar to this. We paid about $160 for ours that we got at our local Costco, and for us it was honestly a perfect option that kept us comfortable and cozy for 17 months of travel and sleep in that bed. I never regretted that decision at all.
BUT, I will say this: If I were making the same decision again at this point, being older and wiser, I would at least consider the mattress options up against the mattress topper options.
RV Mattress Topper vs. RV Mattress
Based on my research, you should expect to spend 2-3X more money on a quality RV mattress vs. a gel foam RV mattress topper (and you can get a 3-inch gel foam topper for 50% of what we paid by going to Amazon).
So while an queen RV mattress topper might run anywhere from $75 to $140, a good queen RV mattress will set you back $130 to $240 or more depending on quality.
So why did this mattress topper option work for us? Part of it might have to do with body weight. We are both pretty lightweight folks (125-145 lbs) so the crummy mattress underneath probably wasn’t as much of a factor. But if you are significantly heavier than this, the new RV mattress option honestly might be the safer and wiser bet to ensure long-term comfort, better sleep and a better RVing experience.
9th Tip — Do Significant Research Before Making an RV Mattress Purchase
Here’s the deal: I am not going to go into all of the factors you should consider before deciding to purchase an RV mattress for your rig. I’m also not going to go through “reviews” of multiple RV mattresses. Others have done that and have covered:
- Common Dimensions for RV Mattresses
- RV King
- 72 inches W x 75 inches L
- 72 inches W x 80 inches L
- RV Queen
- 60 inches W x 80 inches L
- 60 inches W x 75 inches L (“short queen”)
- RV Full
- 53 inches W x 75 inches L
- 55 inches W x 75 inches L
- RV King
- Types of RV Mattress Materials to Choose From
- Memory Foam – Low Cost, Lighter Weight and Low Profile, Not as Durable
- Latex – More Expensive, Heavier, Less Common for RVs
- Innerspring – Low Cost, Low Profile, Heavier
- Hybrid – Decent Cost, Heavy and Thick, Less Common for RVs
- Air – More Expensive, Supportive and Comfortable, Less Common for RVs
- Other Factors You Should Consider Before Purchase
- Exact Dimensions of Sleeping Space
- Profile (Thickness) – Don’t Overlook This!
- Customer Ratings
- Product Warranty
It’s a LOT of information to process, so take your time. But I want to help you out a little bit by showing you a few mattress review posts that might be most helpful in your research:
- Camp Addict’s Best RV Mattress Reviews
- RV Web’s Best RV Mattresses 2019
- Tuck.com’s Best RV Mattresses
10th Tip — Don’t Overlook How Your Kids’ Comfort Can Impact YOUR Sleep
So far, we’ve touched on more than one way in which increasing the stability of the RV can help improve your sleep quality. But think about this:
If your kids (or other occupants of the RV) are uncomfortable in their beds and tossing and turning all night, it WILL affect your sleep as well!
No matter how stable you are able to make your RV by ensuring stabilizing jacks are down properly or through the use of X-Chock Wheel Stabilizers, other people shifting around constantly in the RV is going to negatively impact your sleep to some degree.
What does this mean? It means you might have to consider upgrades to the sleeping surfaces and conditions of other folks in the RV in order to improve your own sleep.
I know, that’s not really what you wanted to hear…especially if you are a cheapskate like me. But it is the reality of the situation, and I don’t want to lie to you, friend. So seriously consider if small upgrades in those other areas could be worth it for everyone along for the ride.
11th Tip — Staying Active and Outdoors Will Usher In Better Sleep
I saved the simplest and cheapest option to wrap up this list of RV sleep tips. Yes, it’s simple but it’s so important for a few reasons:
- Spending time outdoors, especially while active, will absolutely improve your sleep experience.
- The outdoor activity will obviously also improve your overall health and vitality.
- There are so many mind-blowing experiences waiting for you out there with just a short excursion!
In our travels, I can’t tell you the number of times that we were able to see stunning views or have wildlife encounter experiences with just a short hike. Getting out there and hiking just opens up so many doors for memory-making, potentially life-changing experiences.
I don’t want you to miss out on those experiences, and I obviously want to see you enjoy better health and better sleep, so take a chance and hit the trail on your next outing. That outdoor physical activity will absolutely usher in better sleep for your body, better well-being for your mind, and better memories for you to hang onto for a lifetime.
What RV Sleep Tips Can You Share With Us?
Sure, we’ve had plenty of experience in an RV and can speak about better sleep from that perspective. But I’ll bet you’ve had plenty of your own experience and have learned a thing or two that could help out the rest of us. So share your best RV sleep tips in the comments below and we will all be forever grateful.
Now, get out there and adventure better…then sleep well!
Todd Bonner loves a competitive game of table tennis, a breathtaking hike and simply exploring new places. He spends most of his time sharing information about RV travel and safety, RV accessories and tips, and the National Parks he has visited and still desperately craves. When he’s not busy working on TREKKN, you will often find him staring at pictures of Glacier National Park (probably his favorite spot on earth) or creating new products for Clever Camper Company.
Friday 31st of December 2021
Hi there, just stumbled on your post, not sure if you are still reading the comments. We have the same trailer. We first put an insulated mat under the bottom bunk since that is exposed to the outside and always got cold really fast. For circulation we have usb rechargeable fans that clip on so the kids get more airflow in the bunks. Hubby also installed a more powerful fan in the bathroom so er just leave the door open at night and it acts like a whole house fan, sucking out all the air from inside and drawing fresh air through open windows. We have a mattress topper for our bed as well. I would love to see how your kids have their stuff organized in their bunk beds. Happy travels!
Monday 10th of January 2022
Hi Petti, sorry for the late response! We do read the comments, but a bit slower about responding as we drag ourselves out of the "holiday stupor". :)
Those sound like some pretty cheap and easy fixes you implemented...great ideas and we really appreciate you sharing. Probably should have made some of those fixes ourselves while we still had that trailer.
We don't have kiddos in bunks any longer. We transitioned this year to a campervan since our youngest is about to turn 18 and fly free. But there wasn't much organization going on inside the bunks when we were traveling with them...other than some adhesive hooks stuck on the walls to hold hats, chains, etc. Most of their organization was in the storage area under the bunks and in the cabinet next to the bunks that served as their closet.
We wish you very happy travels in 2022! Peace.
Friday 24th of April 2020
We worked there for two summers. Did Gunsight Pass the second year. Totally awesome. Really would like to return. Yes there is a lot of useful info here.
Friday 24th of April 2020
Hey Todd Agree with you about Glacier. It is magnificent. Just beginning our research into going full time RV. Your posts are very insightful
Friday 24th of April 2020
Always good to meet a like-minded person that really "gets" the magnificence of Glacier. I need some Glacier SO bad right now.
I am excited for you as you begin the research journey. It is exhausting and overwhelming, no doubt. But it is so worth it. You can find plenty to keep you busy on our site! :)
If you have any questions at all as you work your way through the process, feel free to reach out!
Gary Wayne Wilson
Tuesday 18th of February 2020
Ref stabilization. My tires are also too far apart for the 'X' to work, but I probably would not have bothered. I use four chocks, one for each tire. First put one left and right downhill end, the put tow vehicle in gear to press gently against them to get a little pressure on them. Add the other two chocks on the uphill side, put vehicle in neutral and unhook. There should be pressure against all of the chocks, tires won't move.
Wednesday 19th of February 2020
Hi Gary, that's an excellent point about ensuring the weight is fully settled on each chock to increase stability. I definitely did not think that through all the way and go through those steps.
But I sure hope others heed your advice and sleep better because of it. Thanks for your wisdom!
Wednesday 12th of February 2020
I NEVER travel without earplugs! You can never count on quiet neighbors or traffic levels in parks so earplugs can make or break a trip. I sleep soooo soundly with earplugs though I usually end up taking them out midway through the night. I keep a couple pair conveniently next to the bed always.