5 Tips to Get Good Sleep in a Noisy Campground

Many people fall asleep to sound machines or white noise apps: rainstorm, crickets, waterfalls. When you’re tucked in bed at home, the sounds of the outdoors can be soothing. Yet when you’re actually sleeping outside? Sometimes the soundtrack of nature—and fellow campers—can be downright disruptive to sleep. For many people, getting a good night’s sleep if one of the biggest challenges of camping. As we’ve covered in a previous post, there are many solutions that can make sleeping in a tent more comfortable. But what about that other barrier to dreamland? Noise. For anyone who’s ever struggled to sleep on a camping trip because of noise, we’ve got some solutions for you!

Spend enough time camping, and you’ll discover that nighttime noise can be divided into two main categories: nature and neighbors. Both can be frustrating in the middle of the night and both can be nearly impossible to stop. (Aside from calling a park ranger or breaking up the party at the next campsite.) That said, you can prevent the noises from bothering you in the first place. (We’ll get to that later.)


First, let’s address the obvious. Sometimes noises outdoors can keep us awake simply because they’re unnerving. Most of us aren’t used to the ordinary nighttime sounds of the woods or anywhere else. (Aside from the more common frogs and insects.) It can often help simply to identify what we’re hearing so it doesn’t keep us on high alert. Here are some common culprits:


Raccoons are usually harmless scavengers and you might hear them scurrying through your campsite or checking out your supplies. Yet raccoons also have a wide range of sounds from chirps to squeaks to snarls. Also worth noting? Raccoons often squabble or fight with one another and when they do, it sounds way worse than it is. Think lots of vicious snarling and growling.


Coyotes are another common nighttime scavenger. They might wake you with a chorus of yips and howls as they communicate with one another (that will likely encourage your dog to join in), but they tend to be harmless and wary of people. (They’re also adaptable and can also show up in a variety of environments from the woods to suburban backyards.)


There are 19 species of owls in North America and each one has its own distinct range of calls. Each species is also nocturnal, spending the night hunting for mice and other small prey. The Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl have the most familiar calls but owls make plenty of sounds that don’t sound familiar at all such as cackles or screeches. Another thing worth noting is that owls—like all birds—have to learn their calls, which can lead to some strange, unidentifiable noises in the woods. That eerie noise you hear might simply be a baby owl calling for its parent.


Skunks are known more for their smell than their sounds but they still hiss, growl, and whimper when they need to. They’re also nocturnal and active at night.


Aside from nature noises, there are also the sounds typical to camping near large groups of people. Most campgrounds have quiet hours but they’re infrequently enforced so campers (especially tent campers) are often left to deal with noisy neighbors on their own. Of course, not all fellow campers purposely disturb the peace. When you camp near other people sounds like talking, dogs barking, car doors slamming, and generators running are often inevitable. It helps to expect this ahead of time so you can be prepared with some noise cancelling solutions.

No matter what’s keeping you awake at camp, here are some easy—and relatively inexpensive—solutions:

1. Earplugs

Here are three types of earplugs that are worth a try.

2. Headphones

If earplugs are uncomfortable, headphones are another option for muffling noise. Use them with a white noise app or a sleep-inducing playlist.

3. Sound machine

These small battery-powered sound machines are great for travel of all types.

4. Fan

If you’re camping on a warm summer night, a portable fan can cool you off plus provide some much-needed background noise.

5. White noise app

There are a lot of white noise apps on the market, here are three of our favorites.

Sleep Machine


White Noise Lite