There’s nothing like a well-spent day exploring the great outdoors followed by a peaceful snooze under the stars. Tired from an active day and full from a meal cooked over an open fire, it’s a lovely feeling to crawl into your sleeping bag and drift off to the sound of the wilderness at night.
Have you ever noticed that you sleep better when you’re camping? Provided, of course, that you are equipped with appropriate gear--no one sleeps well while they’re cold and wet.
We learned that it’s not just a coincidence. If you’re having trouble with your sleep schedule, take a camping trip to recharge and reset. Here’s how it helps:
1. Less distraction from modern electronics.
First and foremost, one of the biggest culprits for keeping us up late are our cellphones, iPads and laptops. Whether you are scrolling through Instagram, binging some Netflix or playing a game, using these items are not only keeping you engaged (and awake) but they emit blue light, which is known to interfere with your ability to sleep. How many of us are guilty of saying, “Just one more episode,” and staying up way too late? By taking some time to be separated from those items that can be found all over our houses, you get a break from your guilty pleasures that keep your mind racing at night and mess with your ability to fall asleep. Without them, once you recover from the mini shock to your system, you will find yourself going to bed with a clearer mind, not feeling like you’re always missing out on something because, realistically, when you’re camping you’re a long way from wifi.
2. Physically demanding.
Camping tends to blow the 10, 000 step goal out of the water without even trying, which is a great way to physically tire yourself out. Between hiking, swimming, chopping firewood, kayaking and playing games there is never a shortage of stuff to do to keep you busy and tire you out so you aren’t going to bed feeling restless. If hunger is the best sauce, then exercise is your glass of warm milk with a side of turkey.
3. Ideal sleeping temperature.
Even in the heat of the summer, the nights still drop in temperature. This fresh, cool air is ideal for sleeping because our bodies naturally heat up while we sleep. If the air around us is cool, it helps keep us from overheating and waking up sweaty in the night. A great way to recreate this effect at home is to use sleep products with cooling
4. Resets your circadian rhythm.
Earlier, we touched on how electronics can be distracting at bedtime and how they emit blue light that interferes with our sleep/wake cycle. When you go camping and surrender your electronics, your body is able to adjust itself back to our natural sleep/wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, that mirrors the hours with natural light. When the sun goes down, our bodies start to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that makes us tired, and when the sun comes up, melatonin levels fall, allowing you to wake up more naturally. There was a recent study published in Current Biology investigating how modern electronic light affects our circadian rhythms and the results were amazing. Five healthy people were sent into the Colorado Rocky Mountains for six days, monitored by researchers and left with only natural light (so, no cell phones or flashlights, just the sun and the moon).
Before the camping trip, the researchers analyzed the campers melatonin levels and found that they remained high well into the morning hours, which means that their bodies weren’t ready to wake up.
After the camping trip, when the campers melatonin levels were analyzed again, researchers discovered that the campers’ melatonin levels dropped immediately when they woke up showing a significant improvement. Campers also reported falling asleep an average of 2.5 hours earlier each night than they did at home.
Who knew that artificial light had such a significant impact on our sleep? By doing something as simple as removing artificial light, you can make a positive impact on your sleep health.
For these four reasons and many more, we recommend you take a little camping trip this summer to explore, enjoy and reset your internal clock. Happy camping!
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