We know that our sleep schedules can shift to unnatural states in urban settings. To reset your body's clock and learn your natural sleep patterns, try going camping for a week to see how you sleep in the wilderness.
Photo by Zach Dischner
As the Art of Manliness explains, sleeping in an outdoor setting that's mostly void of unnatural light helps your body start to adjust back to its normal sleep pattern. After all, we know that the bright allure of screens is bad for your sleep, even if we all still do it. Camping is a great way to trick your body into readjusting by having a nice vacation:
Researchers at the University of Colorado found that participants who roughed it in the great outdoors shifted their sleeping schedule to one that lined up more with the earth's natural solar day and night. In the absence of artificial light, they returned to their primeval pattern. On average, the participants went to bed earlier, woke up earlier, and slept longer. Even self-proclaimed night owls shifted to a sleep/wake cycle that lined up with the natural solar day and night and started going to sleep well before their "normal" bedtime back home. (This suggests that their night owl-ness may be driven more by preference and habit than their biological makeup.)
Even if your "real life" schedule can't accommodate the natural sleeping schedule you uncover while slumbering in the wild, it can provide you ideals to shoot for. And the experiment should at least give you an idea of how much sleep your body needs to feel fully rested. Shoot for that number, whatever your schedule may be.
One study may not be definitive proof to claim that living outdoors for a week is the cure-all for your sleep schedule (especially since it was only eight people). But it makes complete sense, and either way, the worst thing that happens is you enjoy a break from the noise and lights of city life. There are worse fates. Check out the Art of Manliness' article below for more ways to improve your sleep.
22 Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep [Art of Manliness]