How to sleep better at horse shows

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Part of the reason us horse hubbies can frequently be found napping at horse shows is that it’s so incredibly difficult to get a good night’s sleep.  Showcations are great, but they are rarely what you would call restful. An accumulated sleep deficit is not a recipe for an enthusiastic and energetic return to work on Monday morning.

A common characteristic among us horse show husbands is that we are problem solvers. Through trial and error, here are a few tools that I have found to be really helpful in making sure I sleep well, have energy through the weekend, and am ready to rock my desk job bright and early Monday AM.

Sleep Gear

Horse people are funny. In my experience they LOVE falling asleep with the TV on, or in front of their smart phones. If you are in a trailer, there can also be a lot of strange sounds and lights. I have tried to meditate these stimuli away, telling myself that they don’t matter, that I have enough self-mastery to ignore them, or pretend they simply aren’t there. I have never succeeded.

The best solution for all of these situations is a good sleep mask and some high quality ear plugs.  The Sleep Master sleep mask is the best I’ve found for comfortably keeping the light out.  It wraps around your head, which means that it also slightly muffles sound by itself, but most importantly it protects your ear plugs so they don’t get knocked out during the night.

Speaking of ear plugs…traditional ear plugs can be awkward and nasty.  In my youth, I worked in a pulp and paper mill in northern Manitoba, and had to wear earplugs all day, every day. They are a pain, and can be really effective at packing your ear wax into a nice little plug, which is great because it means you no longer need foam ear plugs. Ba news is that you can’t hear anything…ever…until you see a physician or find a way to extract it by some other means (not a cue tip).

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are great because they are actually a putty that sits on your ear holes instead on in them. Super comfortable, and they work.

(side note: both the sleep mask and ear plugs are essential for business travel as well)

Sleep Aids

I’ve been using ZMA and melatonin for a long time. Most people know about the latter, but not many outside of body building circles seem to know about the former.  Don’t be frightened by the initials.  ZMA is simply a stack of vitamin B6, magnesium, and zinc. It helps you to sleep, increases recovery,  and boosts testosterone.  Be warned that it can also cause you to have CRAZY dreams (a side effect that is not for everyone)

Because of the crazy dream thing, and because they can make you groggy in the morning, not everyone likes the ZMA + melatonin combo.  My father-in-law swears by ZzzQuil. If you like to glug your medicine, this could be a good option for you.

What NOT to do?

Probably the most important thing to avoid in order to get a good sleep is alcohol. Booze is bad for sleep at the best of times, but at a horse show (which is dirty, dusty, surrounded by hay, and crowded with dogs), alcohol can actually cause of contribute to histamine reactions, making it more difficult to breath.


This is a horse show, so avoiding alcohol is probably not going to happen.

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