roof rack tent in the desert

How to really sleep in a rooftop tent – quality of life/sleep

I have spent many nights in different rooftop tents. In this article, I want to tell you about the experience of sleeping in a rooftop tent. I also have a few tips for making the night in the rooftop tent comfortable and relaxing.

You sleep very well in a rooftop tent. However, the quality of sleep can depend on the following factors: mattress firmness and thickness, spaciousness, ventilation, tent wall, and insulation, as well as pitch, background noise, and environment (e.g. we sleep better in a group or in a campsite).

That was the short and concise answer to the question of how it is to sleep in a rooftop tent. I have to honestly say that we slept pretty badly in the rooftop tent because we just didn’t know or didn’t pay attention to certain things. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share our experiences and what we’ve learned from them.

Avoid these mistakes for better sleep quality in the rooftop tent

Looking back, we made a few mistakes on our first night in the rooftop tent. Without these mistakes, we would certainly have slept better. That night we were awake more than we slept. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience.

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We had borrowed a folding roof tent from a friend that was over 10 years old. So we drove into the mountains and stayed at a reservoir. A waterfall was also nearby.

The mattress was too soft and too thin for a good night’s sleep

The mattress consisted only of soft foam rubber. You could see and touch the mattress, but lying on it we only felt the hard rooftop tent floor.

There was also no mesh under the mattress, which allows for air circulation while still adding some cushioning. Today it is standard in most rooftop tents or is offered as an accessory.

Sleeping on my side was torture. As a back sleeper, I had a slight advantage over my girlfriend.

New rooftop tents usually have a memory foam mattress of at least 2-4 inches and a thick cover over it. So far we have slept best on these mattresses.

Tip: For optimal sleep quality, buy a rooftop tent with a good mattress or buy a high-quality mattress afterwards, such as >>this rooftop tent mattress here<< (link to

A good night’s sleep in the rooftop tent needs space

Another time we went to test with a rented hard-shell roof tent. It was a so-called triangle or shell tent. So only one side could be folded up.

With this version of hard-shell roof tents, there are basically two problems that disturb sleeping: On the one hand, you bump against the deep part of the roof tent with your toes and, on the other hand, you have the sloping wall of the foldable part in your face.

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In this tent, due to poor ventilation, condensation also formed on the headboard that night. As a result, I had to crouch down so that my feet didn’t constantly bump into the roof tent and my head didn’t get cold and damp.

Tip: Sleep in a rooftop tent with enough headroom and footroom for your height.

Sufficient ventilation in the rooftop tent brings nice dreams

It was cold that night and so we closed practically all the openings in the roof tent. We just didn’t know any better. As a result, condensation formed in the rooftop tent due to the temperature difference and our vapors.

As a result, the sleeping bags got damp and the cold slowly got through.

It may contradict logic, but in the rooftop tent, you should ensure the greatest possible draft, especially when the outside temperatures are low.

The humidity in the rooftop tent decreases and you are drier and even warmer. This helps you to sleep well in the rooftop tent.

Tip: Always sleep in a well-ventilated rooftop tent, especially when the temperature is low.

Rooftop tent wall and insulation for better sleep quality

Although your tent should be well-ventilated, it is still important that the tent wall is windproof and the tent floor is well-insulated.

Drafts from the side of your face or head, or even cold through the tent floor, can wake you up several times during the night.

The draft should only exist in the upper part of the tent and not where you sleep. Pay attention to where the ventilation options are attached to your rooftop tent.

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With good rooftop tents, the entrance zip opens from top to bottom. The tent fabric of the entrance is thus fixed at the bottom and not at the top. This sometimes gets in the way when getting on and off, but you can still manage well.

When regulating the opening, however, is an advantage because the opening is at the top and not at the bottom.

Tip: You will definitely sleep better in a well-insulated and well-designed rooftop tent.

Background noise when sleeping in the rooftop tent

For us, the most important point for a restful night in the rooftop tent is the location and the background noise of the environment.

At the night on the big mountain, we had a powerful rush of water from a waterfall nearby. The sound of the waterfall made it impossible to detect any other sounds.

Three cars drove very close to us that night and we only heard them at the last moment. Footsteps would also not have been immediately perceptible. Somehow it made me nervous and I didn’t sleep well.

We sleep best in a sheltered place where we know 100% that we are allowed to stand there. But we also sleep well when wild camping in the rooftop tent, provided we are traveling with a group. That gives us security.

Tip: In order to sleep well in the rooftop tent, look for a good and safe place where you feel comfortable.