Sleep used to be a pretty straightforward thing for humans. But, with a new way of perceiving time and the technology necessary to create schedules came mankind’s need to micromanage it in almost every way possible. And depending on who you talk to, some folks are proud of how hard they work and how little sleep they get, while others are hoping for a nationally shortened work week in the near future.
Eight hours is often the number that gets tossed around when it comes to how much sleep we should all be getting, but quality of sleep is often never mentioned. Getting seven hours of amazing sleep will almost always trump getting eight hours of mediocre or terrible sleep. And a new study has discovered one great way of achieving that goal.
Researchers have discovered that finding a nice place outside to pitch a tent for a few nights helps humans reset their internal clocks that help signal to the body when it’s time to call it quits for the day. Which means saying goodbye to your smartphone and hello to a cozy tent and sleeping bag.
The study tasked five people with traveling into the mountains for about a week without any sort of electronics--no gadgets, devices or even flashlights. They found that each camper slept 10 hours each night they were in the woods, which was about three hours more than they typically got at home.
The sun plays a large part in telling our bodies when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to sleep. When the sun rises, our bodies start to produce cortisol to help us wake up. When the sun goes down and it starts to get dark, our bodies begin producing melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” When we’re receiving a high amount of light from our gadgets and devices, our bodies can become disoriented as our circadian rhythm is thrown out of sync, which in turn causes difficulties when sleeping.
The other part of sleeping outside is seen in numerous studies that show just how therapeutic nature really is for the human mind and body. The University of Essex discovered last year that therapeutic farming, horticultural and environmental conservation programs helped folks struggling with mental health problems.
Other studies have found that patients will often recover from surgery faster when they have a view of trees and nature from their windows.
Feeling connected to nature and the world as a whole is massively therapeutic and beneficial for the soul. If you’re having a hard time finding a good night’s rest, trade your smartphone and computer for trips outside when you have the opportunity and you’ll likely start seeing changes immediately.