Spending a week under the stars may be some people’s idea of a nightmare.
But those who emerge from camping trips claiming to be refreshed and invigorated may have the right idea, as new research suggests that seven days in the great outdoors can reverse disruptions in our sleeping patterns and reset our natural body clock.
A report published in the scientific journal Current Biology claims that while modern life impacts our sleep through exposure to electric light and reduced access to sunlight, camping can re-synchronise us with sunrise and sunset.
All life forms on earth have evolved biological rhythms that anticipate sunrise and sunset, but scientists say that today most of us have around a two hour delay in our circadian clocks.
Researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder took eight volunteers with different sleeping patterns on an eight-day trip to the Rocky Mountains during which torches, mobile phones and other light emitting electronics were banned. By the end of the trip all were waking up and falling asleep at around the same time, with those who usually stayed up very late seeing the biggest shift in their waking hours.
The study was small and not applied to those with serious sleeping issues – but if you wake up groggy and struggle your way through the morning, the cure just might lie in a sleeping bag and canvas.