When it comes to nature and humans, one thing is for sure – spending time in nature can do wonders for human health. Spending regular time in nature can lead to lower blood pressure and balance of stress hormones.
Various scientists even claim that spending time in nature may also improve sleep. How? It seems that spending time in nature can reset our internal clocks to a natural sleep cycle.
Can Camping Help You Sleep Better
Throughout most of human history, humans went to bed shortly after the sun went down and woke up in the morning as it rose. Of course, there were candles and later oil lamps, but the light was dimmed and never brights.
It was natural for people to go to bed early. It all changed when the light bulb was invented. This single invention changed how we sleep and seriously affected our sleeping habits.
One study showed that if you live by the sun’s schedule, you are more likely to go to bed at least one hour earlier.
This single move would make you less dizzy. The logic behind it lays in the fact that internal clock and external reality are more in sync.
A Colorado study was conducted to show just how much artificial light affects our sleeping habits, and how much natural light combined with nature can help humans sleep better.
Kenneth Wright, an integrative psychologist at Boulder, said that subjects in his study lived healthy lives, and they never had issues with any form of sleep difficulties.
He also add that “The amount of sleep they got did not change. What changed was the timing of their sleep and the timing of their [internal] clock relative to when they slept.”
The total number of subjects was eight, and the average age was around 30. Subjects were followed for a week while doing their everyday activities, that included:
They were facing mostly artificial light during this period. Then, they sent the same people out camping.
Scientists measured sleep and light daily, as well as the hormone melatonin every hour for 24 hours. This was followed once after the week of living at home, going to work, school, and then after a week of camping.
Also, melatonin lowers the body’s core temperature, making it easier to sleep. Some people are also taking melatonin supplements to sleep better and fall asleep easier.
After the week’s study indoors, the Colorado subjects went camping in the Rockies. Now, they were exposed to sunshine during the day and campfires at night.
It’s important to note that the light from the sun is four times as intense as what they have experience indoors.
As you may know already, the nature of the light also changed during the day. After their week of camping, researchers measured the subjects’ melatonin levels again.
The researchers found that the onset of melatonin shifted two hours earlier, and the subjects’ actual sleep shifted more than an hour earlier. This was as if their bodies were recalibrating themselves.
So, once the subjects were back in their normal lives, the melatonin and the external time conflicted. They were waking up, but the melatonin in their bodies was telling them they should be asleep.
On the other hand, when they were out in the outdoors, the melatonin levels and the sun cycle were more aligned.
How Camping Helps You Sleep Better
Spending time outdoors, out in nature, can work wonders for human health. After spending only a few nights away from modern electric lights, people can feel better, recharged, and healthier. A person’s biological clock is set in part by exposure to light.
However, the modern way of living really interferes with everyone’s biological clock because we expose ourselves to light outside the natural sunrise-to-sunset cycle.
One finds even found ” that a weekend camping trip can reset our [biological] clock rapidly,” which means that getting away from the modern lighting environment can actually help people sync up a person’s biological clock with the natural rhythms of day and night.
The researchers did two experiments in the study: one in the winter and one in the summer.
In the first experiment, the researchers send five people out camping in December in Colorado. Their melatonin level was measured before their departure.
Researchers continued measuring their melatonin levels over 24 hours after they spent six days keeping their usual sleep schedules.
Interestingly, the level of melatonin, otherwise known as the sleep hormone, rose and fell throughout the day, and more interestingly, those levels can change in response to light.
Six days later, after camping, where they didn’t use flashlights or any type of electronic device, the people returned, and they had their melatonin levels measured again.
After their camping trip, the campers’ melatonin levels started rising 2.6 hours earlier, compared to when they were at home, according to the study. Plus, people went to sleep 2.5 hours earlier than when they were in the modern environment.
The second study included 14 people, nine of whom spent a weekend camping in Colorado in July. This group was allowed to use flashlights and headlamps, but no other electronic devices.
These campers were exposed to more light during the day than the 13-fold increase in light exposure that the winter campers experienced.
As expected, this can be linked with the fact that people naturally spend more time outdoors during the summer. The campers’ melatonin levels started rising about an hour and a half earlier after their weekend camping trip.
So, if a person wants to go to bed earlier, a weekend spent camping could be the answer.
Camp Sleep Is Good for You
Getting back to nature can be rewarding in so many different ways. Pitching a tent outdoors can help you tap into all the benefits of nature:
1. You Can Boost Your Internal Clock
When it comes to feeling awake or sleepy, it all comes down to natural-light exposure.
The sun is responsible for providing the short-wave blue light that rouses us in the morning, and the long-wave reddish or even the orange light that signals the approach of bedtime. So, camping can be a great way to boost your internal clock and sleep better.
2. Fresh Air Means Fresh Brain
Carbon-dioxide levels outdoors are generally in the 400-parts-per-million range, about a third of what’s in a stuffy room.
A study from 2016, showed that participants who slept in a bedroom with low levels of CO2 reported more restful sleep and even showed better mental performance the following day.
3. Limited Screen Meand Better Sleep
Avoid electronica devices before you fo to bed. Don’t have them on you when you go camping.
It would be best if you went to nature electronics-free because it will be good for your sleep hygiene. Heavy screening can lead to higher insomnia rates and more sleep disturbances.
Nature Is The Best Noise Machine
Going to nature is a great way to drift off. Not only that campaign will be great for your sleep, but it will help you enjoy silence.
In a modern living environment, you may have a white noise machine to help you sleep better. However, in nature, you may find the deeper tone of pink noise more soothing. Natural sounds are more likely to give you a faint awareness of an interesting sound.
Tips For Better Tent Snooze
- Only wear base layers
- The proper outfit will allow your body heat to radiate outward
- Feel free to eat a snack before bed
- For a snack have something that will slow-burning and high calorie, like nuts
- Never burrow your face into your bad, because it creates chilly condensation
- Wear a neck gaiter and a beanie with a cuff
The Bottom Line
A weekend spent campaign can do wonders for your overall health. Camping in summer or winter can help you reset your energy and eventually help you sleep better.
Various research has shown that those episodes to more sun sleep better and longer.
So, treat yourself and run for a weekend to the nearest nature. Have the right gear on you, avoid using artificial light as much as possible, and enjoy your indoor time.
Once you back to your every day surrounding, you will sleep better.