Written by Dr. Mark
Sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle but our culture again can get in the way of healthy sleep patterns. The most obvious way this happens is from our use of artificial lighting. For a lot of us we spend most of our days indoors under artificial lights, to then head home and keep the lights going well into the night. This interferes with our body’s normal circadian rhythm, because it is greatly dependant upon natural light and darkness.
Filling the day with natural light and the night with true darkness for as little as a weekend can have a profound impact on our circadian rhythm that may help us fall asleep earlier and potentially deliver other health benefits, according to new research involving Colorado campers.
Go camping in the winter and the impact may be even more potent, the two-study paper — published today in Current Biology — found.
“These studies suggest that our internal clock responds strongly and quite rapidly to the natural light-dark cycle,” said lead author and CU Boulder integrative physiology professor Kenneth Wright, who believes his findings could help light-based approaches for boosting work performance, quelling seasonal depression and circadian sleep-wake disorders. “Living in our modern environments can significantly delay our circadian timing and late circadian timing is associated with many health consequences. But as little as a weekend camping trip can reset it.”
Delayed circadian and sleep timing has been associated with a host of health problems, including poor cognitive performance, mood disorders, diabetes and obesity, Wright noted. “Our clock influences much more than sleep.”
If you can’t get away for a trip to the mountains, you can still help yourself and your sleep by trying to get outside more during the day to expose yourself to natural light. Then as bedtime approaches put the phone away, keep the t.v. off, and try to keep your room as dark as possible while you’re asleep.
Sleep well – Dr. Mark
referenced article can be found here: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uoca-cgt020217.php