No Need to Count Sheep in the Great Outdoors

Can’t sleep? Try camping.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder conducted two studies with volunteers who agreed to go camping for a weekend in the summer and another group who agreed to go for a week in the winter, according to a university news release.

camping great outdoors

Scientists found that those who camped for as little as a weekend in the summer had a melatonin rise 1.4 hours earlier than those who did not go camping. For the winter group, the results were even more pronounced—their melatonin levels rose 2.6 hours earlier.

“These studies suggest that our internal clock responds strongly and quite rapidly to the natural light-dark cycle,” says Kenneth Wright, lead author and CU Boulder integrative physiology professor. “Living in our modern environments can significantly delay our circadian timing, and late circadian timing is associated with many health consequences. But as little as a weekend camping trip can reset it.”

For those who can’t get away, Wright recommends getting more natural light during the day and putting away all electronic devices well before bedtime.

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