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Go camping to reset your internal clock naturally

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Do you find it hard to sleep at night or wake up in the morning? Well, you're not alone.

According to the Cox health, more than 60 million Americans suffer from at least mild insomnia. A lack of sleep can not only leave you feeling exhausted, irritable and hyper-reactive during the day but also be detrimental to your health, work performance and quality of life.

Sleepless nights

Getting enough shut eye will not protect you against disease. However, studies have shown a link between insufficient sleep and heart disease, obesity, heart attacks and obesity.

One or two nights occasionally will not harm your health. You may be in a bad mood or find it hard to concentrate during the day. It's the constant lack of sleep over a long period of time that may create problems. Recent research on shift workers has highlighted that long hours or working the night shift may reduce fertility in women. Working at night disrupts the body's natural circadian rhythm, which impairs biological functions.

In other words, by not following our natural body clock e.g. going to bed when it's dark, waking up when it's light, our body is left unbalanced and unable to function properly.

How to reset our circadian rhythms

So how do we stop this pattern of insufficient sleep and more importantly reset our biological clock? Well, the answer may be to go back to nature. More specifically, a week camping could solve all your sleep woes.

A study published in Current Biology showed that humans' internal biological clocks will tightly synchronize to a natural, midsummer light-dark cycle, if given half a chance.

The participants of the study by the University of Colorado Boulder were followed during their normal week of work and activity, and then sent camping for a week with only the camp fire and each other for entertainment. They could choose their own sleeping schedules. After seven days of camping, these self-confessed night owls had reverted to being early birds.

In fact, after a week of natural lighting, all measures of circadian timing shifted two hours back, and sleep schedules followed, even though the total time spent sleeping stayed about the same.

The participants also felt more alert in the morning and didn't suffer from the usual morning grogginess.

Improve your Zzzs

Understandably, not everyone can go camping for a week. But by making simple changes to our daily routine, we can help set our clock straight. Here are a few tips:

  • Go to bed earlier - try and go to bed an hour earlier in a dark, cool room.
  • Go for a morning walk.
  • Keep your shades open at work.
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Keep the lights low in the evening.
  • Disconnect from computers, TVs and mobile phones at least two hours before you sleep.
These tips may not be ideal but you'll have a better night's sleep and help your body adjust back to its natural rhythm. The result? You'll feel better and more alert during the day.