I am lucky where I live. I have a house with a sleeping porch on the front of it, looking out over the ocean, free for the most part of bugs and deep and covered. Every summer I have slept outside there, and this summer, most of the rest of the family has joined me there. ince June 28, I haven’t slept inside and as the weather turns to fall, I can’t yet find a good reason for doing so. The rains have come and the winds are picking up, meaning that my sleeping bag and Thai cotton mattress gets a little wet, but nothing that can’t be dried in front of the fire in a half hour or so.
Sleeping outside brings us into intimate connection with the world. My house faces southeast, so I know which planets are up, when the dawn is and what kinds of winds are buffeting the inlet below us. I hear barred owls calling most nights, making a huge racket on full moons, and the deer prowl the slopes around me. In the morning the autumn dawn chorus consists of chickadees and steller’s jays looking for seed, while ravens towhees and flickers go about their business. From the lagoon a half mile from my house, Canada gees and gulls chatter in the morning air.
My friend Tenneson Woolf sent along a great article – nay a manifesto – on sleeping outside:
As our lives become more and more hectic, more “modern,” we spend less and less time outdoors – in nature’s clearinghouse.
It’s almost impossible to find the time. But given that we must sleep, sleeping outside – or at least next to an open window – helps us get a much-needed dose of nature every day. No, what I’m talking about can’t be added to grocery-store milk, like the essential “sunshine” vitamin, D. For us multitasker types, it’s the perfect solution, taking in the outdoors while sleeping. The outdoors is a lifeline. Our evolutionary molecules crave it. Children, especially, need it, and problem-solving adults can certainly benefit from it. It’s a simple solution to some of what ails us.
Summers are meant for sleeping outdoors, but the best way to adjust to your secret outdoor life in the dead of winter is to think of your bedroom as a sleeping room only. That way you can shut the door and let the temperature drop while you’re getting oxygenated without cooling off the rest of your house. A designated sleeping porch or loft is ideal. Pile on the bedding and get yourself as close to your window as you can. Let the snow, the wind and the rain spray you with nature’s sweepstakes. You’ll wake up a winner.
Tonight, gather up your dreams and head out – to the wilds of your own backyard and beyond, where the vast expanse of the universe awaits you.
The truth, for sure.