Reset Your Body Clock How camping can reset your body clock

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The great outdoors.  The perfect place to get away from the commute, a hectic life and the worries of work.  And, it turns out, to make you sleep better.

I’ve just returned from 3 days camping.  This week I find myself going to bed sooner, sleeping better and waking up earlier and fresher.

Electric light has been amazingly helpful for us humans and we’ve got a lot done because of it.  It has a dark side (no pun intended) and has broken the link between us and natural light. This is an issue, as our eyes and brain use light to regulate our body clocks.

This is where camping comes in.  In 2013 a study* found a week camping using only natural light or the light from a camp fire was enough to reset your body clock back to a natural rhythm.

Using only natural light tends to advance your body clock so you wake up earlier and feel tired earlier in the evening.  This is because we’re all used to artificial light which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still day time well into the evening.  Without it, our body clocks fall into line with daylight hours.

My camping trip did just that.  My body clock has been rest and I feel great for it.  Sadly, these changes will be gradually lost as my brain starts moving my body clock back in line with the artificial light I expose myself to.

It’s a great reminder to try and get as much natural light as I can in early morning and mid/late evening.  This will the in turn remind my brain when I should be waking up and when I should be falling asleep. If you want to learn more on the importance of light for sleep – have a look at this blog here

*Kenneth P. Wright Jr., Andrew W. McHill, Brian R. Birks, Brandon R. Griffin, Thomas Rusterholz and Evan D. Chinoy. (2013). Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle. Current Biology.  23, 16. p1554-1558, AUGUST 19, 2013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.039

Written by
Sam Billington

Sam is our sleep guru. I am fascinated by sleep and I've used my science training to research and learn about sleep. I have been providing sleep advice and personal sleep plans for years. My day job is Head of Workplace Culture in Defra, I live in London with my wife and have a PhD in Ecology and Biology.