How to Sleep Well When Living the Van Life

van life sleeping parking overnight
van life sleeping parking overnight

Dreaming of living the van life, but unsure whether you’ll be able to sleep like a king/queen in your mobile palace? You won’t ever have to concern yourself with that issues again when you’ve had a little read of these top tips, and you’ll be left to make the most of the ‘world is your oyster’ kind of living that comes with you and your van being together!

You’ve probably heard of some of the downsides that people have endured when they’ve not quite got it right in terms of how they’ve prepped for living and sleeping in their vans, but these tips will prevent sleep becoming elusive when you’re on the road.

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Pinterest is obviously a really good source for checking out how others have set up their vans, and things have moved on significantly from the mattresses on the floor and a beach towel over the windows kind of vibe!

Using online platforms and forums will help you gain not only inspiration but potentially essential knowledge from people who’ve been there, got it wrong, and now know what is better for everyone, and will save you time and effort on your quest for the sleep-inducing van setup of your dreams!

Don’t just go slinging some old cushions in there and expecting it to be a haven, because you know that won’t cut it. Think about building bed frames, insulating the space for colder nights and getting blackout blinds fitted too as all of these things will help you sleep better, snooze expert Sarah Cummings of the Sleep Advisor says.


We just touched briefly on what will help you sleep better, but expanding on this a little further, we want you to think about the things that assist you when you’re getting continuous and consistent sleep at home.

Wherever there’s light coming into the van, they need to be covered when the time to sleep comes around. Obviously, the major one is the windscreen, so cover that one up with a reflective sunshade as this will give you not just some assistance with blocking out light efficiently, but it will also stop your van becoming too hot as the sun rises and shines through the windscreen.

Heat makes space harder to sleep in, so unless you’re already out of the van before the sun comes up, then keep that heat and light out for your own sleep-based benefit.

Think about getting those blackout blinds fitted on smaller windows too. It’s literally a case of making it as dark as you possibly can, as your brain associates darkness with rest. So as you can imagine, if you make it, sleepy times are on the horizon for you!


Lots of people use vans so that they can go do fun things like go on hikes, go surfing, explore and much more. So, if you don’t have any of these things on the agenda, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are doing something that will help you to use up plenty of energy during the day as this will see you on the right path to sound slumber when the night-time comes.

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Try to establish some kind of routine

You may have seen this pointer and thought that one of the things you specifically wanted to escape when embarking on the van life was routine, so, just bear with us here.

Yes, it’s definitely going to be different when you’re on the road, but if you can establish even a smidgen of routine your brain and body will thank you for it and it’ll reward you with some juicy sleep of high quality!

It might not even be a case of having a night-time routine, but a more structured morning one instead, such as setting a daily alarm at the same time and eating breakfast at the same time before you go and do your thing for the day. Humans intrinsically crave some level of routine, so just don’t fight it too much or your sleep will suffer as a result.

Bedtime toilet trips

Toilet trips, as you’ll probably be aware of, aren’t going to be the same as when you were in your house/flat. This is one of the only aspects of van life that likens more closely to camping in a tent than staying in a bedroom space at home, but it’s all part of the fun!

If you or the person you’re staying in the van with have a little bladder and will be getting up in the night to relieve your/themselves then everyone is going to be woken up.

When this is the case, you need to think about what you’re drinking before you slip off to bed. Too many beers or teas before bedtime will regularly end up with a few trips to the loo, so either have a long enough cut off point that will stop this happening or go for choice number two…

You can either hop and pee somewhere outside, or use something you’ve set aside to fill up for night-time toilet breaks. If you’re on your own then this is less of a debate, but you might just want to discuss this one in advance.

As we were saying if you truly want to make sleep the main priority, have a time in mind that you know will be okay to see you through the night without having to do your business, which will leave you to sleep in peace.

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