Zzzzzz: The Science Of Sleep

A burner sleeps at Dr. Deb's "Collective Dreams" installation, 2005. Photo by Scott London.
A burner sleeps at Dr. Deb's "Collective Dreams" installation, 2005. Photo by Scott London.

Man oh man is it crucial to get sleep on the playa. It’s not always the easiest thing to do but a little planning will help you get some beauty rest in the desert. Here are some tips.

1. Pillow
Bring your pillow from home. There is something about being able to fall asleep on your own pillow. It’s comforting. Sleeping bags without pillows are a quick way to strain your back in my experience. I’ve seen people in RVs who bring all their bedding from home, fancy duvets and throw pillows and such.

2. Eye Mask
You will probably be partaking in some nightlife in Black Rock City. Regardless of what time you go to bed, the sun’s going to come screaming through your tent or trailer window. Eye masks are great for afternoon catch-up naps as well.

3. Ear Plugs
There will be music and laughing and heated conversation and fire-spewing art cars and 35,000 other people. It’s cacophonous out there. I camped for seven years way out in walk-in camping, where there is the most distance between encampments anywhere in BRC, and I still needed ear plugs.

4. Sheet
Sleeping bags get hot. You may want some coverage and a flat sheet is your best bet. If it gets super hot, you can pour out cooler water and have yourself a nice wet wrap while you’re lulled to sleep. If it the weather turns cold the sheet can be added as a layer of warmth inside your bag.

5. Sleeping Area
Before heading out for the night, prep your tent with anything you’ll want when you return as well as what you’ll need when you wake up. Keep a full bottle of water next to your sleeping area. Lay out your PJs, eye pillow and ear plugs. I keep a spare flashlight next to the bed roll for just-in-case moments. Toothbrush, wet wipes, condoms…. trick it out. A snack is a good idea, either for when you come home or if you wake up famished.

About the author: Molly Ditmore

Molly Ditmore

The night Molly Ditmore arrived at Burning Man 1998, she told everyone that she had come home. She didn't pack a flashlight or get any sleep. She volunteered at Media Mecca for six years, where she handled press inquiries from the music community and hosted an art tour. Costuming for Burning Man inspired her to sew again, a skill she learned in middle school home economics class. She is now a couture pattern-maker, custom clothier and rain hat maker. Molly got dusty from 1998-2009 and 2012-2015. She reads the comments.

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