STUDY: The Camping Cure

A week outside resets your body's biological clock

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    Photo: Dudarev Mikhail

Technology is interfering with your sleep cycle, and camping is the cure. A weeklong camping excursion can reset your biological clock, according to a study published this week in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers recorded the melatonin levels—a hormone involved in the sleep cycle—of eight people throughout their daily life. The hormone should rise before sleep and decrease throughout the night. But in the participants, their melatonin levels were high for several hours after they got up—possibly leading to difficulties with alertness in the morning.

In search of an explanation, the scientists took the volunteers for a week of camping without flashlights or electronic devices and found that their sleeping patters became synchronized with the sun.

"They all shifted to an earlier time," Professors Kenneth Wright from the University of Colorado in Boulder told the BBC. "They all shifted to an earlier time," said Professor Kenneth Wright from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Researchers believe that a reliance on electric lighting is responsible for the shift in our sleeping rhythms and suggest dimming all electric lights in the evening and starting the day with a blast of sunlight or a morning walk. Previous studies have shown that exposure to bright light in the morning can spike your cortisol levels. While this stress hormone is typically associated with negative health outcomes, a morning boost actually readies your body for the stresses of the day ahead, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York believe.

More on the "Nature Cure."

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