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Sleeping in a Van: 10 Tips for Your Best Van Sleep Ever

Sleeping in a Van: 10 Tips for Your Best Van Sleep Ever

It’s no secret that van life can be tiring, which makes quality sleep all the more important. Sleeplessness should be reserved for late-night adventures—the importance of ensuring you get a restful night's sleep after a day on the road can’t be overstated. While the thrill of parking your van amidst nature or in a new urban area is unbeatable, unexpected external variables can throw a wrench into your sleep plans. 

If you're new to the lifestyle or just looking for ways to enhance your van sleep experience, these ten tips will help you keep your gas tank full (pun intended) by getting more peaceful slumbers.

1. Scout Your Parking Spot

two sprinter vans at dusk

Safety and Security

Before settling in for the night, consider the location. While a free spot and stealth camping is appealing, it is best to ensure you're in a safe and legal area. Plus, nothing’s worse than being woken up from a deep slumber by a knock and a flashlight at 3AM with a voice attached that says you have to move.


In the United States, some national and state parks do allow overnight parking for van lifers, but always double-check regulations, as rules can change. 

Walmart Parking Lots

Walmart also has a friendly policy toward mobile home dwellers—on their corporate website it specifically reads, “Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able.” With manager permission. 

RV Parks

RV parks are another van friendly option, offering amenities that might make your stay more comfortable.

2. Buy or Make Blackout Curtains

sprinter van parked at night

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

One essential for getting a good night's rest while sleeping in a van is to ensure it's dark. Blackout curtains not only block out the unwanted city lights when you’re in an urban area, but they also give you privacy. Plus, in the middle of the night, if you need to turn on a light, you won't be attracting attention to your van.

For those with a crafty touch, DIY blackout curtains can be an affordable and customizable option. You can even select a fabric that matches the interior aesthetics of your van, ensuring functionality without compromising style. With some measurements, a few yards of blackout fabric, and a little sewing know-how (or no-sew adhesive strips for the non-sewers out there!), you can create tailored window coverings that offer optimal darkness.

If you’re in a pinch—a comfy eye mask can also go a long way!

3. Know the Local Laws

Avoiding Unwanted Disruptions

Overnight parking laws vary from city to city. The last thing you want is a knock on your door in the middle of the night from local law enforcement asking you to move. While Walmart parking lots have a reputation for being RV and van friendly, always check with store management. A general rule? If you see signs prohibiting overnight parking, move along.

4. Aim for Quiet Locations

sprinter van with bike rack in the desert

The Sound of Silence

Whether it's the intermittent noise of traffic or loud pedestrians, noise disruptions can hinder your van sleep. When scouting locations, consider quieter spots like national parks or free camping areas away from busy roads.

5. Ventilation is Vital

Fresh Air Flow

Even in cooler climates, it can get stuffy in your home on wheels. Ensure you have proper ventilation to keep fresh air flowing, which will aid in a comfortable sleep. But, remember safety first – always make sure your ventilation methods can't allow anyone unwanted inside.

6. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

bed in camper van

Routine is Everything in Van Life

Just because you're living the van life and have the freedom to hit the road whenever doesn't mean you should neglect a sleep schedule. Keeping regular sleep hours ensures you remain rested and ready for whatever adventure awaits. Save the spontaneity for the adventures, and give your body the gift of some sleep cycle predictability.

7. Invest in a Quality Mattress

bed in sprinter van

Comfort is Key

Your mattress plays a pivotal role in your sleep quality. Investing in a quality mattress tailored for your van dimensions can make all the difference between a restless night and waking up rejuvenated. Plus, nothing is worth unnecessary back pain.

8. Avoid Bright Screens Before Bed

starlink wifi attached to top of sprinter van

Winding Down

Even van adventurers aren’t immune to the lure of doom scrolling. It's tempting to catch up on social media or watch a movie on your tablet before bed, especially if you're parked in a 24-hour wifi spot. However, to enhance your night’s sleep, try winding down with a book or some calming music instead. The blue light from screens can hinder your sleep quality. At least turn on night mode on your devices and/or wear some blue light glasses.

9. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Safety First

Always ensure you have a safety plan. Whether it's a first aid kit, a charged phone, or knowing the nearest exit route, being prepared will give you peace of mind, making it easier to drift off.

10. Find Free Camping Resources

sandy van set up at a camping spot

Budget-Friendly Rest

If you’re keen on parking your van in nature, there are numerous resources available to help you find free camping. Websites and apps dedicated to pinpointing free camping spots across the United States can be a game-changer, ensuring you're in a safe and scenic spot.

 sandy vans neon sign lit up at night from inside van

Sleeping in a van can be a delightful experience, offering unique views when you pull back those curtains in the morning. Remember, while van life offers freedom, it's essential to be respectful. Always leave your parking spot cleaner than you found it, and if someone (whether it's store management or another camper) asks you to move, always be polite and understanding.

Your van is more than just a vehicle; it's your home on wheels. Treat it with care, and it'll ensure you have countless restful nights, no matter where you're parked. Safe travels, and may your van adventures bring limitless joy and restful sleep!

Ready to embark on your own van adventure?

Here at Sandy Vans, we build luxury adventure vans and van products that don’t sacrifice comfort while you get after it. 

Check out what we have available, or get in touch with us at and let’s get you on the road with the best gear! #FocusedOnLiving
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