A recently published study in the medical journal “Current biology” based on research in the USA shows how just one isolated weekend spent camping does help people who normally sleep badly.  When we are in the great outdoors, our inner clock quickly adapts to the natural day-night rhythm however long or short the days are.  In his  article entitled “Circadian Entrainment of the Natural Light-Dark Cycle across Seasons and the Weekend” Kenneth Wright and his team from the University of Colorado in Boulder demonstrate that

one’s body clock fully adapts to a natural day-night rhythm after a week spent out-of-doors.   The researchers observed student’s sleeping patterns and checked the melatonin levels of those taking part in the exercise.  The so-called sleep hormone kicks in when night falls and one becomes sleepy.

The body stops producing the hormone at daybreak and you wake up.

Artificial light disrupts the natural cycle which is why so many people experience sleep problems these days.

Your melatonin level quickly adapts to the natural day-night rhythm when you are out-of-doors, even in the winter months.  The findings showed that participants went to sleep earlier and stayed in bed longer.  In the natural world people tend to sleep longer in the darker months, just as animals do.

The perceived wisdom is as follows: spend as much time in sunlight as possible during the day and avoid artificial light in the evening. Having regular sleeping hours is a good idea too. It does help if there is as much daylight as possible in one’s living space.  If you want to simulate the natural day-night rhythm, you can always use a dimmer switch.

Source: Campin04g, Cars & Caravans (D)