Did you know your body and circadian clock will sync with nature?
Oh yes it will.
We are animals still after all
Our bodies increase melatonin levels in the few hours before heading off to bed, at least a healthy sleeper does. Melatonin is the “hormone of darkness,” it is our physiological response to cycles of daylight and darkness.
Those melatonin levels will stay elevated throughout what our bodies perceive as night. Again, a normal sleepers melatonin levels will coincide with the earth’s phases somewhat. When our melatonin production cycle becomes out of sync with nature that is when we feel groggy and tired, indicators of poor sleep.
Good sleep has a strong influence on our overall health. In our bodies there is an overlap between all of our systems, poor performance in a single area can have a cascade affect. In this way, poor sleep has been tied to dramatically increased rates and risks of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Those are the serious consequences of failing to keep a body well rested.
In someone experiencing sleep disorders, like insomnia, their biological cycle and earth’s cycle can be way out of tune. For the insomniac, melatonin level might not rise until well after the sun sets so they are still going to be elevated after the sun rises. This will result in even more grogginess than just lack of sleep.
Hit the reset button naturally
Ditch the electronics, because the artificial light emitted by our electronics often cause or worsen sleep disorders. Once the electronics are out of the way we can then reap the benefits of nature’s reset system.
In Current Biology, Feb. 2nd 2017, a new study found that a week of winter camping reset the body’s circadian rhythm to be more tuned in with nature’s light-and-dark cycle. Participants were found to achieve longer sleep following the natural reset. Although this study was conducted in the winter, myself having spent a great deal of time outdoors in all seasons, I can personally attest that the natural reset will work any time of year.
Jen and I recently spent a week under the stars in Big Bend National Park and even the first day your body begins to sync with nature. The sun sets, the stars come out and a calming feeling over comes your body and you begin to drift off. I love our Kelty Salida 2 tent because it has a mesh top offering a nearly clear view of the stars and awesome mosquito protection. By the end of our week we were falling asleep easily at 9:30pm and waking naturally and refreshed as the sun came out again around 6.
If you are finding yourself waking up groggy, or maybe you aren’t sleeping hardly at all, it might be time to load up and hit the outdoors. Even if you can’t squeeze in a weekend in the woods, just sleeping in your backyard can do the trick. Backyard resetting probably will require a little more conviction to keep the electronics at bay though but the payoff is worth it.