iStock/mysticenergyIt’s no surprise that using technology before bed can give you insomnia and throw your sleep schedule out of whack. Scrolling through your Facebook feed, for instance, prevents your brain from shutting down, especially if you’re a social media addict who needs constant updates.
This is because daily exposure to electrical lights (everything from your TV to the bright lights of a busy city) affects levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock (aka the circadian rhythm), causing our mental bedtime to be pushed back by as much as two hours.
Luckily, there seems to be a cure to technology-induced sleep problems. New research out of the University of Colorado-Boulder shows that spending a weekend camping can reset our circadian rhythm and return our bodies to normal sleeping patterns.
For this study, nine participants went camping for a weekend in the Rocky Mountains during the summer (they were given flashlights and headlamps as additional light). Five participants spent the weekend in a modern setting with electric lighting. After reviewing the groups’ sleeping patterns, researchers found the campers’ internal clocks did return to normal, and that the natural light (and darkness) kept them from falling into the trap of staying up late and sleeping in that most of us experience on the weekends.
If you need to reevaluate your sleep schedule but can’t get out for a camping trip, Kenneth Wright, one of the study’s authors, recommends a consistent bedtime, as well as more exposure to sunlight during the day and minimizing the amount of electrical light you use at night.