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  Life   Health  03 Feb 2017  Trouble getting to sleep? Go camping!

Trouble getting to sleep? Go camping!

Published : Feb 3, 2017, 4:31 pm IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2017, 4:47 pm IST

Exposure to sunlight and a change in timings can help reset the clock for many people to sleep better

Late Circadian and sleep timing in modern society are associated with morning sleepiness and accidents. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Late Circadian and sleep timing in modern society are associated with morning sleepiness and accidents. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington: Struggling to reset your sleep cycle disrupted by night outs, higher smartphone use and artificial lights? Taking more weekend camping trips could help you go to bed earlier, regardless of the season, a new study suggests.

Many of us sit up late into the night, watching TV, fiddling with our smartphones, or reading a book by lamplight. Now, researchers at University of Colorado Boulder in the US suggest that the solution to the sleeping woes could be as simple as spending more time outdoors in the Sun. A few days spent back-country camping is enough to send people to bed earlier, no matter the season, they said."Late circadian and sleep timing in modern society are
associated with negative performance and health outcomes such as morning sleepiness and accidents, reduced work productivity and school performance, substance abuse, mood disorders, diabetes and obesity," said Kenneth Wright from the University of Colorado Boulder.

"Our findings demonstrate that living in our modern environments contributes to late circadian timing regardless of season and that a weekend camping trip can reset our clock
rapidly," said Wright. An earlier study by the team found that our modern exposure to electrical lighting causes about a two-hour delay in our internal clocks, as evidenced by a shift in the normal fluctuations of the hormone melatonin. They found that a week of summer sun shifted those internal clocks back, sending people to bed earlier, without
changing how long they slept.

Researchers sent another group of five active people camping for a week in the chilly Colorado winter, right around the time of the winter solstice when the days were at their
shortest - no flashlights or cell phones allowed - and watched what would happen to their sleep and hormonal rhythms. The data suggest that our modern lifestyles reduce light
exposure in the winter by a whopping 13 times. With increased time spent outdoors, people in the study started going to bed at a more reasonable hour.Their internal clocks, measured by the timing of when melatonin levels began to rise in their bodies, shifted more than 2.5 hours earlier. Their sleeping patterns followed these changes in melatonin levels and people went to sleep earlier.

Wright and his colleagues also asked whether a camping weekend in the summer was enough to shift the clock. They sent nine active people camping while another five stayed at home. A weekend spent camping prevented the typical weekend pattern of staying up late and sleeping in and prevented individuals' circadian clocks from being shifted even later.

The findings show that people are responsive to seasonal changes in daylight just as other animals are. While our modern conveniences may leave us out of synch, our clocks can
be readily reset with light exposure, researchers said. If a person wants to go to bed at an earlier hour, then a weekend spent camping could be just the thing, Wright added.The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Tags: tents, camping, sleep