Want to sleep like a baby and hop out of bed the next morning, raring to go? Schedule a camping trip. According to a study by the University of Colorado, camping can reset your internal clock. It can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake up without an alarm. It even works on night owls! After a week of camping they start behaving like morning people!
But there’s a catch: You have to rough it: no flashlights, smartphones, tablets, or anything else with a battery. A campfire is the only light allowed at night. That’s because exposure to the natural hours of light and darkness readjusts our body’s levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Physiologist Dr. Kenneth Wright led the study, and he says that most of us get only 25-percent of the natural light we need to normalize melatonin levels. That pushes our sleep cycle at least two hours out of whack and artificial light is the reason why so many of us have trouble going to sleep at a decent hour and then wake up feeling tired. In fact, some research suggests that our circadian rhythms have been messed up ever since the introduction of electric lighting in the 1930s!
But if camping isn’t your thing, you can simulate the experience. Dr. Wright suggests getting as much natural daylight as you can by raising your blinds in the morning and taking a walk outdoors at least three times a day. Also use less artificial light, whenever possible, especially once it starts getting dark. And turn off everything that has a screen at least an hour before going to bed. That way, your body’s levels of sleep-inducing melatonin will rise normally, making it much easier for you to fall asleep.