Struggling to sleep and waking up on time? Camping on a weekend in the hills may reset your sleep pattern and help you go to bed earlier, regardless of the season, suggests researchers.

The findings, led by researchers at University of Colorado – Boulder, showed that increased exposure to electrical lighting — such as watching TV, playing games on smartphones, or reading a book under a lamplight — causes about a two-hour delay in our internal clock. It also shifts the normal fluctuations of the hormone melatonin, known to regulate sleep and wakefulness, the researchers said.

“Our findings demonstrate that living in our modern environments contribute to late circadian timing regardless of season and that a weekend camping trip can reset our clock rapidly,” said Kenneth Wright at the University of Colorado.

Further, the modern day lifestyle characterised with more time spent indoor reduces natural light exposure, by a whopping 13 times, especially during the winters.

These disturb the sleep pattern and hormonal rhythms causing sleepiness throughout the day, reduced work productivity, school performance, accidents as well as lead to many health issues.

“Late circadian and sleep timing in modern society are associated with negative performance and health outcomes such as morning sleepiness and accidents, reduced work productivity and school performance, substance abuse, mood disorders, diabetes and obesity,” Wright added.

For the study, appearing in the journal Current Biology, the team sent a group of people camping for a week both during summers and winters. The participants were not allowed to take any flashlights or cell phones.

With more time spent outdoor, the participants started going to bed at a more reasonable hour.

Their internal clock, measured by the timing of when melatonin levels began to rise in their bodies, shifted more than 2.5 hours earlier.

Their sleeping patterns followed these changes in melatonin levels and people went to sleep earlier, the researchers noted.

First Published | 3 February 2017 2:32 PM
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