Could Camping Be the Key to Better Sleep Patterns?

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-08_363b349a0b.jpg iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Camping is a classic summer pastime. But new research suggests that its benefits may extend beyond bonding around the campfire. The benefits of camping may follow you to bed as well. Past research as shown that exposure to modern conveniences like computers, smartphones and televisions that produce artificial light can lead to disturbances in circadian rhythm and sleep patters. Because of these disturbances, we are more tired during the day.

Researchers at the University of Colorado wanted to see what would happen if they took eight volunteers into the great outdoors. They studied the subjects in two settings -- one week in a typical, artificially lit environment, and the other week camping outside under natural light conditions.

While the subjects were camping, the researchers observed a change in the subjects' sleep cycles. The study participants reported feeling less tired. It appeared the participants' sleep and wake cycles had become more closely tied with the sunset and sunrise.

This new study, published Thursday in Current Biology, backs up the past research about synchronizing one's internal circadian clock to normal solar time.  

The good news here is that, while we might now be able to go camping for a week, we can all get more natural sunlight. Go outside during the day, turn off the TV and computer at night and have a better night's sleep.

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