Tent Sleep: Science Says It’s The Best Kind You Can Get
Our circadian clocks are governed by the natural rise and fall of melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that cues off of light. In the evenings, melatonin levels rise, telling our bodies it’s time for sleep.
As night turns to morning, our levels drop back down, telling us to wake up, eat, and get moving. When our internal clocks are more in sync with the season’s natural light-dark cycle, we tend to get better rest, our moods and energy levels improve, and we have less risk of weight gain and diabetes.
Which is why camping — basking in the natural outdoor light — is a proven boon for healthy sleeping. But what about in the winter, when there’s less light to go around? A new study finds that even in the darker months, the sleep benefits of camping aren’t diminished one bit.
For this latest round of research, the scientists sent five brave souls into the rugged Rockies for a week right around winter solstice. They stripped them of flashlights, smartphones, or any type of unnatural light. From the sun alone, they were exposed to 13 times more light than they would’ve been at home.
The participants were free to hit the sack and wake up whenever they wanted. Throughout the week, they turned in 2.3 hours earlier than they did normally — but awoke at the same times, scoring them extra sleep. Because this pattern persisted all week, it shows they weren’t simply “catching up” on sleep, says lead researcher Kenneth Wright.
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