For decades, many have labeled themselves as either a ‘morning person’ or a ‘night person’. Researchers have used the terms, ‘morningness’ and ‘eveningness’. More recently, the names ‘Larks’ and ‘Owls’ has been used. Whatever the name, it is a phenomenon that has divided many a conversation and the beds of many more couples at night.
But a series of research studies led by CU Boulder professor, Kenneth Wright, may have an argument against these stereotypes. He went camping.
Turns out that getting a good dose of natural light during the day and true sunset and darkness at night has a profound effect on our circadian rhythm. “The studies suggest that our internal clock responds strongly and quite rapidly to the natural light-dark cycle,” said Mr. Wright.
One study sent volunteers camping for a week where they were exposed to four times more light by day than usual and prohibited from using artificial light at night. By the end, it was found the onset of melatonin (the hormone that prepares us for sleep), came nearly two hours earlier, near sunset. Conversely, it began to wane, signaling the biological start of the day, earlier too. No matter what type of sleepers they were, the campers’ clocks synced with the natural light.
Morning sunlight sets off a chain of events every morning that impacts the rhythms in our body; influencing not only when we sleep and rise, but also the timing release of hormones that impact appetite, metabolism and more.
Spending too few hours in sunlight, staying away with too many hours of artificial light at night, plus screens and the like, all throw off our natural rhythms, which has been associated with a host of health problems, including poor cognitive performance, mood disorders, diabetes and obesity.
So the moral of this story? To reset your body clock, just go camping!
Sleep well now!