With the hustle and bustle of today’s modern world it can sometimes be hard to unwind and get a good night’s sleep. A trip to escape it all is always a treat in order to get away and unwind. Fortunately, the choices for wonderful glamping holidays are ever-growing, but could a week away from technology be the cure to resetting your body clock?
For those who don’t already know, last year researchers at the University of Colorado undertook a study to test the effect of living off the grid—no lights, smartphones or computers—on the body’s natural clock (aka circadian rhythm).
They reported that after just seven days of camping in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains—with only natural sunlight during the day and campfires at night—the circadian rhythms of eight participants within the small group of volunteers involved shifted to be in sync with the natural light and dark cycles of the Colorado summer.
Essentially, the timing of their body clocks altered to be more like those of the “early risers” who go to bed and get up earlier. This was reflected by changes in the levels of melatonin in their body (melatonin is a natural hormone found in the human body which aids sleep). Researchers saw this kind of shift in melatonin due to artificial light in other studies.
In the campers, this natural hormone which controls circadian rhythm started to increase at sunset, therefore signalling the start of “biological” night. The hormone also started to drop at sunrise, around fifty minutes before people woke up, informing the body that biological daytime was commencing.
While it was recorded that the sleeping patterns of the volunteers was set back about two hours, the over-all amount of time they spent sleeping remained the same.
The study was wholly carried out on a small scale, but it provides more insight into how artificial light can throw off the body’s natural clock, and on the other side of the coin, how natural lighting can reset that same clock.
While this research is slightly inconclusive and does raise questions, there were also signs that switching off from the artificial light and devices can reset your body clock, and that can only be a good thing, right? It’s certainly reason to give it a go for yourself to find out.