Dave Johnson | On 16, Sep 2013
Campers have known for a long time that a week spent spent camping is good for recharging your batteries and can be extremely invigorating. What is great, is that recent scientific study has confirmed this fact, explaining exactly why a camping trip is good for the health.
Increasingly, modern life has been dominated by artificial light. Light bulbs and screens are everywhere, which on one hand is great – they let us work and live out our lives, no matter what the season is and no matter how much daylight there is in the day. Yet, there is a downside to this. Our bodies are not used to the barrage eternal artificial light. We are still chemically conditioned to respond to natural light i.e. our bodies naturally want to wake at sunrise and to sleep at sundown.
There is a chemical which operates in our brains called melatonin which is causes this. It helps to regulate our sleeping patterns, this being why some people who suffer with insomnia take melatonin supplements in a bid balance out their sleep cycles. Melatonin is also held accountable for some people feeling groggy in the morning, especially during winter. It is said that due to the increase in artificial lighting, this has set people’s sleep patterns out of sync with the solar day (the day as dictated by natural light), meaning when you awake and get ready for the day, melatonin levels within your brain are still high, which results in lethargy.
The study suggests that, due to modern day lifestyles, most people’s biological clock is off-kilter by around two hours. This means people do not feel tired until two hours after they naturally should, so therefore go to bed later. This also means many people’s melatonin levels will not normalise until around 2 hours after they wake up, with this being the culprit of morning grogginess.
This may seem rather daunting, but there is a way to relieve this and bring your body back in to line with the natural day cycle, and that involves putting down the laptops, tablets and mobile phones and taking a trip into nature for a week or so.
Studies have shown that in just a week spent camping, away from artificial light sources (this includes everything; lights, gadgets, the lot), the human body soon re-syncs with the natural world. Essentially, what this means, is that if you are not a morning person and take a while to kick into gear in the AM, then you could perhaps benefit from a camping trip.
What is interesting, is that the study has shown this to phenomenon to occur within people who class themselves as preferring morning or night time. Most people fell into line an became synchronised with the natural daylight. This obviously is of huge significance, especially in the battle to trying to understand mental conditions such as depression and insomnia, which can often see their sufferers become almost nocturnal.
So, science has confirmed what many campers have known for a long time. A trip into nature with just the sun, moon and camp fire as the only sources of light is good for the health and can leave you feeling reinvigorated afterwards. For those who would like more detail on this study, then please see this article.