03/02/2017 Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Having trouble getting to sleep? Go camping


It won't come as big news to campers, but now we’ve got scientific proof to back up what we've always known. Spending nights under canvas helps you sleep better.

Scientists have discovered that sleeping in a tent can reset your internal body clock and help you drop off earlier.

Artificial lighting from televisions, computers and smartphones, as well as our electrically lit homes all have a negative impact on how much sleep we get. But researchers at the University of Colorado believe spending a couple of days in the great outdoors might be the solution.

A weekend of living and sleeping under the stars can move the body's internal body clock by more than 2.5 hours so people begin to feel sleepier earlier in the evening. Dr Kenneth Wright, a sleep expert at the University of Colorado Boulder, told the Daily Mail: “We think the body clock shifts quickly because sunlight and removal of electrical light at night sends a strong signal to the body.

“There are some people who have difficulties falling asleep because their body clock timing is very late and our findings may help to initiate treatments for that group.”

Our body has a daily "circadian" rhythm that anticipates day and night to co-ordinate how our body works. It alters alertness, mood, physical strength, when we need to sleep and even the risk of a heart attack as part of a 24-hour cycle. Light helps the clock keep time, but modern life with artificial light, alarm clocks and smartphones has altered our sleeping habits.

The researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Current Biology, sent two groups of volunteers on camping trips during the summer and the winter.  Another group was monitored at home.

The campers wore special watches that recorded light levels and had blood tests to analyse the sleep hormone melatonin. During a week-long camping trip in winter, the volunteers were exposed to 13 times more light than at home, even though it was the darkest part of the year. Their melatonin levels also started to rise two-and-a-half hours earlier than before the expedition and they went to bed earlier too.

However, people's body clocks would start to shift back to their old rhythm once the tent was packed up. The solution? More camping!


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