Why Camping Could Be The Cure To Your Sleep Problems
Before power grids supplied lighting to the masses, people’s sleep cycles were based solely on sunlight. Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” A study published in Current Biology — part of an ongoing exploration by researcher Kenneth Wright from the University of Colorado, Boulder — says that “reduced exposure to sunlight can delay circadian timing in humans, which may contribute to late sleep schedules and disrupted cycles.” Also, “the ability to control our daily exposure to light has led to an increase in indoor activities with expanded work and play hours deep into the night.”
Wright compared a group of participants after one week of camping with only exposure to natural light (sunlight and campfires) with a group who just went about their usual routine with work, school, and social activities, surrounded by regular electrical lighting. The study found that participants’ average light exposure increased by more than four times while they were camping. On the other hand, a week of modern living showed that internal clocks were delayed during their normal schedules by two hours and thirty six minutes.
It looks like when our bodies are presented with natural light-dark conditions, our internal biological time can quickly synchronize to environmental time and, in conclusion, will lead to earlier bedtimes. In addition to helping our sleep cycles to get on a healthy track, (insomniacs you know who you are) exposure to natural light has been shown to enhance cognition, help to treat winter depression, skin disorders, and will allow the skin to produce the Vitamin D it needs.
So, maybe it’s time to break out the good ol’ sleeping bag and camping gear (or borrow from your outdoorsy friend) and head to the mountains for some quality nature time and let your body detox from modern life. If you can’t stomach the thought of being out in the wild, at the very least, Wright suggests you try and expose yourself to morning light or cut down on the use of smartphones during the evening.