Last Updated on 26/05/2022
Has anyone else gone through a period of sleeping in a sleeping bag every night? Whether you were sleeping on a couch for a week, need the extra warmth because the heating packed in, don’t have bedding, or just fancied mixing it up. Sleeping in a sleeping bag full time can soon lose its charm but there are ways to improve the situation.
In this guide to using a sleeping bag for multiple nights at a time, we share some tips and answer common questions so you can decide if it is for you or not. This advice comes from years of experience spending long periods of time sleeping in a sleeping bag every single night including 3 months in a hammock. Using a sleeping bag every night is sometimes the only option but there are some alternatives worth considering.
If you are camping or backpacking then a sleeping bag just makes sense but if you are at home then you should maybe question the decision a little harder. Can a sleeping bag really be a long-term solution to bedding?
Why Do Some People Prefer to Sleep in a Sleeping Bag Vs Bedding?
Having spoken to other people who like the feeling of being in a sleeping bag there does seem to be a common theme. People who sleep in their sleeping bag when they have bedding available often say they sleep with the zip fully open but keep their feet in the foot box.]
The feeling of pushing your feet against something is oddly satisfying and possibly even calming but is that why people like it so much? Or maybe it’s the warmth a sleeping bag foot box provides to your feet that can get cold at night? For me, it is the feeling of being able to push my feet against something and I do like having a hood to block early morning sun from my eyes when sleeping in a tent.
Are There Any Benefits to Sleeping in a Sleeping Bag Full Time?
Using a sleeping bag all the time isn’t necessarily a good or bad idea but if you prefer it to bedding and keep it clean then why the heck not? To try and come to some type of conclusion we should first look at some of the reasons you might want to use a sleeping bag every night in the first place. These are some of the obvious reasons why it might be a good idea:
Sleeping Bags are Warm
Sleeping bags are nice and warm, especially if you have a good one with a low-temperature rating. Unlike a duvet or quilt, a sleeping bag completely wraps you up and traps all your body heat in a cocoon around you. The same can be achieved with a duvet or quilt but these both rely more heavily on an insulative sleeping platform.
Sleeping Bags are Convenient
Sleeping bags are convenient you have to give them that. No messing about with mattress toppers and fighting to keep the sheet corners on or trying to shake out a bunched-up king-size duvet inside the sheets. Simply slip straight in or unzip the side to make access easier and you have full 360-degree protection and warmth.
Sleeping Bags are Portable in a Backpack
The portability of sleeping bags makes them one of the only viable options for hikers and backpackers who need to be able to carry everything they need in their backpacks. Both the size and weight of a sleeping bag are priorities for people who need their sleeping system to be portable. If you tried to fit a standard duvet and pillow in your backpack it would take up the entire volume.
Sleeping Bags are Packable and Compact
For couch surfers and van lifers who may not necessarily need their sleeping gear to be portable, being able to pack your sleeping bag away is still a big advantage. So for any situation where you can’t leave your bed set up during the day, a sleeping bag will stuff inside a storage bag and even be used as a pillow when not being slept in.
Sleeping Bags can be Comforting
If you are one of the few people who religiously rub your feet together when you get into bed then you most likely enjoy the feeling of using your feet against the end of a sleeping bag. It is weirdly comforting and I imagine it has something to do with our limbic system or being linked to being in the womb but I couldn’t find any studies online.
The other way a sleeping bag can be comforting is by providing the feeling of being wrapped up or hugged around your entire body, especially in lofty goose down. A hood too can provide a sense of comfort as it cushions your head from the back and sides. This may all sound strange to you but I can assure you it is a real thing and is similar to the science behind gravity blankets.
Is it Bad to Sleep in a Sleeping Bag Every Night?
Sleeping in a sleeping bag every night isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you don’t like doing it. So long as you follow basic guides to hygiene and are aware that sleeping bags have a finite lifespan before the insulation loses much of its loftiness. Here are some of the reasons why people might think it’s not a good idea to ditch the duvet for a sleeping bag.
Hygiene can be an Issue
This is a big one and in fact is probably a bigger problem for people who do not use their sleeping bags frequently. For example, if you only use your sleeping bag for 2 or 3 nights a month you can easily overlook giving it a wash for a full year. Whereas if you sleep in a sleeping bag every night you are likely to be much more aware of keeping it clean.
There is a section at the bottom of this page that covers how often you should be washing your sleeping bag but there is a way to prolong its life span. That is to use a sleeping bag liner and wear pajamas which will protect your sleeping bag and means you don’t have to put it through the wash as often.
It can Feel Restrictive
While some people might enjoy the feeling of being wrapped up in a sleeping bag and pushing their feet against the bottom of the bag, many more people don’t enjoy the restrictiveness. Sleeping bags do not allow you to starfish or sprawl out whether they are mummy style or rectangular. This is amplified for people who suffer from claustrophobia but for most people, not being able to stretch your legs out is a disadvantage to sleeping in a sleeping bag every night.
Sleeping Bags are a Solitary Affair
Unless you have a double sleeping bag or have sussed out how to zip two sleeping bags together then sleeping in a sleeping bag every night is a solitary affair. So again, unless you really enjoy sleeping in a sleeping bag vs duvet covers then for the sake of your potential future relationships a sleeping bag might not be the best idea every night.
3 Tips for Using a Sleeping Bag All the Time
We have looked at the benefits and disadvantages of what it means to sleep in a sleeping bag but have only briefly touched upon some things you can do to improve your sleeping bag experience. Here are our three top tips for sleeping in a sleeping bag every day:
1. Use a Sleeping Bag Liner and Wash Often
If the aim is to prolong the life of your sleeping bag then you should ideally be washing it as little as possible, especially if the insulation is made from down. A sleeping bag liner is the best way to keep your sleeping bag cleaner for longer and is much easier to put in the wash every week. The other advantage of this tip is that a sleeping bag liner improves the insulation and warmth of any sleeping bag.
2. Synthetic Insulation is More Durable than Down
While down is the ultimate sleeping bag filler, it is unfortunately incredibly expensive and not as durable as synthetic insulation. When you sleep in a sleeping bag every night you always have your full body weight on one half of the sleeping bag. Over time this compresses the loftiness of any insulation inside which causes the performance to deteriorate.
Synthetic sleeping bags don’t rely on loft so much as the way the fibers are designed to hold warm air. Down sleeping bag liners on the other hand rely heavily on the down being lofty and puffed up. So if you want to use your sleeping bag all the time a synthetic fill sleeping bag will almost always last longer.
3. Rectangular Sleeping Bags Have More Space
While we are almost always biased towards using mummy sleeping bags for their warmth, compact size, and lighter weight, if you are using a sleeping bag to sleep in every night then a rectangular shape may be the better option. The extra legroom means that you don’t have to unzip the side to stick your leg out and can almost fully stretch out. A true rectangular sleeping bag also doubles as a quilt if you are entertaining company which isn’t so easy with a mummy-shaped sleeping bag.
What are the Alternatives to Sleeping Bags?
If you like the benefits a sleeping bag can offer but don’t like the feeling of being enclosed or restricted then there are two alternatives you could consider instead.
Camping and hammock quilts have become increasingly popular and for good reason. They only really work if paired with an insulated sleeping pad but there is a reason many people are making the switch. Quilts basically take away all of the downsides that come with constantly using a sleeping bag. You are not restricted by sides or a bottom, there is no insulation to compress between you and your sleeping pad, more hygienic, and you can still use a liner to keep it even cleaner.
Blankets are a great addition to your sleeping gear but are they a good alternative to sleeping bags? They can be if they are warm enough and you prefer the qualities of a wool blanket instead of down or synthetic sleeping bags. They are quite heavy and bulky and you also may need to use two which adds even more weight but you can make them work if you want to.
How Often Should You Wash a Sleeping Bag You Use Every Day?
You should wash a sleeping bag that you use every day every one to two weeks to keep it clean and fresh. You can extend this if you use a sleeping bag liner which is much easier to was every week or every time you do a wash. When you do wash a sleeping bag you should check the label first which will often advise you to use a 40-degree wash cycle. Down sleeping bags should not be washed as often as synthetic sleeping bags but that will be discussed in an upcoming article.
Is Sleeping in a Sleeping Bag Every Night a Good Idea?
Sleeping in a sleeping bag every night is not an ideal situation long term. The issues I see are that sleeping bags are not designed to be put through a washing machine every week. Combine this with using your sleeping every night and the performance will soon begin to slip. If the sleeping bag is expensive then you ideally want it to last as long as possible. For this reason, we don’t think it is an especially good idea to use and wash a sleeping bag too often however it is an excellent short-term solution.