How to Sleep Better in RV? Tips for Your Life on the Road

The beauty of an RV, camper trailer or camper van is that you bring your own place to sleep. The downside is how hard it is to sleep well in most such vehicles. The problem is understandable.

The manufacturers want to minimize weight and space furniture takes up. This can create problems for those who live long-term in the vehicle or are sensitive. 

Here are a few pointers on how to sleep better in your RV, trailer or van.

What to consider for sleeping better in an RV?

01. Pick the Right Camping Spot

Before you assume the problem is your mattress, find a location that is as peaceful as possible. For example, park at a campsite far from the road so that headlights and road noise don’t affect you. 

You may want to park farther from the bathroom, too, since flushing toilets and slamming bathroom doors could disturb you. Of course, this is easier if your RV has a self-contained bathroom of its own.

Try to park somewhere with bushes and trees to block the noise of generators and lights of other campers. If you can’t find this on a regular basis, invest in light blocking shades for the windows. 

That’s a good idea anyway to minimize natural light streaming in before you’re ready to wake up.

02. Give Yourself Enough Time to Sleep

Around one in ten people has a sleeping disorder. Around a quarter have trouble falling asleep. That isn’t bad enough, a third of adults don’t get enough sleep.

Depending on where they live, anywhere from one in four to half aren’t getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. When you’re traveling in an RV, you need to give yourself at least eight hours to sleep.

However, that’s a minimum requirement.

If you’re sleeping in an RV with several other family members, the sounds of others in the cramped space could intrude on your sleep. 

The sounds of other campers or the unfamiliar background noise could disturb you. That’s why you want to turn out the lights when you have enough time to get nine to ten hours of sleep before your planned start of the next day.

And remember that it is harder to block out the sunlight and sounds of others’ activities in an RV.

03. Turn Off Screens Two Hours before Bedtime

This rule is true at home and on the road. Turn off devices like televisions, computer screens, smart phones and tablets two hours before your intended bedtime. And remember that anyone’s screen will light up the space, making it hard for others to sleep.

Here’s a hint – the lack of screens like this is why many are able to sleep better on camp outs than they do at home.

Turn down the lights in the living area, though it is wise to have lights by the RV door and bathroom door for when anyone needs to get in and out. Then you won’t have everyone awakened by someone falling down the stairs as they head out to the camp showers or checking on a noise they heard.

04. Upgrade Your Mattress

Unfortunately, environmental changes like we’ve discussed may not be enough for you to sleep better in your RV. If you’ve made the changes we recommended and still toss and turn at night, then the issue may be your mattress.

This is often because the mattress that comes with most RVs is relatively thin. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions. You could put a mattress pad on top of the mattress. This may double as a mattress protector. 

For extra padding, you could add a mattress topper. It typically adds a few inches of thickness to the mattress, but that may make it as thick as a second mattress. Conversely, the mattress padding allows you to offset shortcomings in the RV mattress. 

For example, cotton batting mattresses eliminate the sharp creases in fold up mattresses or put extra fluff over the springs in the box spring.

05. Use a mattress pad

A memory foam mattress pad will eliminate pressure points without the cost of a full memory foam mattress, something you may not be able to find in the RV mattress sizes. 

A real or fake down mattress can add an element of softness and improve heat retention in winter but provide cooling ventilation in the summer. Both memory foam and down-like mattresses will go a long way to ending back pain and other types of joint pain if it only happens when you sleep in your RV.

A heavy duty solution, though, may be necessary if you’re a side sleeper and/or heavy. Two mattress pads or a second mattress may be necessary in that case.

06. Use an Air mattress

Putting an air mattress on top of the RV mattress may be an option, though this may be slick or slide around. Another tactic is putting the air mattress or padding under the RV mattress.

The RV mattress holds down the air mattress or padding, and you’re still sleeping on the familiar RV mattress. In some cases, doubling the mattress is necessary. This is almost a necessity if you’re sleeping on the dinette table turned into a bed.

The couch cushions are better than sleeping on a wood table, but they’re not comfortable. An air mattress or mattress pad can make it much more comfortable.

07. Don’t Forget the Pillows and Blankets

Pillows and blankets matter almost as much when we’re trying to sleep as the mattress itself. If you don’t have adequate head and neck support, you could wake up with neck and shoulder pain no matter how good the mattress is

If you’re cold at night, no mattress can make it easy to sleep. Pack enough pillows and blankets to make it comfortable to sleep.

Take familiar pillows and blankets with you. That familiarity actually makes it easier to sleep, especially for young children.

08. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

One way you can sleep better in your RV is to stick to a schedule. Finish dinner. Clean up the campsite. Have a relaxing stretch of time to wind down.

Ensure that everyone goes to the bathroom, enjoys their snacks, takes showers if necessary and gets ready for bed. 

Turn out the lights and go to bed. Then have everyone go to sleep. You can’t force the children to go to sleep when they are excited to sleep away from home.

However, you can have consequences so that they are silent so that others can sleep.


There are a number of reasons why you may have trouble sleeping in an RV. We’ve shared some of the best solutions for solving the real reason why you can’t get a good night’s sleep in the RV.

John S.

Hello guys! I'm a 37-years-old author, traveler, writer, blogger, and a camper. I enjoy life as much as I can and love to visit beautiful places in my RV. That's why while traveling I have decided to dedicate some time to share my experiences with everyone that might be interested in traveling, camping, and RVs.