Can’t Sleep? Let Nature Help!
Staying up late. Tossing and turning all night. Sleepy all day. Sound familiar?
Sleep is one of the most important keys to staying healthy. Even if you get eight hours of sleep a night, you may not be getting the best quality sleep. We all know that out recent obsession with phones and other technology has taken a serious toll on sleep and sleep quality in the past years. Other factors, such as time spent under artificial fluorescent lighting, are also known to wreak havoc on our biological clock.
Camping to the Rescue
Well, nature lovers, rejoice! In case you needed another reason to go camping, it turns out camping is one of the most surefire ways cure your irregular sleep patterns. A recent study published in Current Biology shows that you can actually regain your natural circadian rhythm by sleeping outside – that is, the natural sleep/wake cycle that your body wants to follow.
The study, conducted by Kenneth Wright at the University of Colorado, measured hormone levels and sleep patterns before and after a week-long camping trip detached from screen time.
Illuminating the Issue
Light impacts our daily cycle, and that includes all of the artificial light we’re exposed to on our computers and mobile devices. To that end, artificial light can actually change our levels of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle and can even impact our blood pressure and glucose levels.
With all that interference, it’s no wonder it’s become so difficult to get a good night’s rest! Sleeping outside puts you in touch with the natural cycle of the sun, and the study showed that with just one weekend of camping, combined with the absence of artificial light sources, campers regained a positive sleep cycle in tune with the sun, and their sleep patterns adjusted by as much as two hours! Because of this regained balance in the sleep cycle, study participants also noticed fewer symptoms of the “morning grumpies” (scientific term) and experienced more restful sleep. The campers also showed a noticeable increase in melatonin levels, which helps your body identify when it is nighttime/time for sleep.
Camping encourages your brain and body to work within the confines of sunrise and sunset. After a few days of sleeping outdoors, you may notice that when you get back home to your bed, you begin going to bed and waking up earlier, giving you a more regular sleep schedule. If you can then consistently stick to your change in your sleep cycle and avoid screens at night, you are likely notice long-term benefits, including improved mood, better quality sleep, and lower stress levels – all without potentially harmful or addictive sleeping pills!
In case that weren’t enough, other benefits to sleeping outdoors include stress relief and a boost to your immune system. And taking time to unplug from a screen gives you the opportunity to really experience all the glory that the natural world has to offer.
It’s a logical conclusion, but one that’s never been supported by scientific research before now. We didn’t really need another excuse to get outdoors, but it’s nice to know that being outside is even better for us than we thought!