Struggling to sleep? You’re not alone, as 22% of Britons feel the same way. Luckily, research has found a cure - spending time outdoors away from artificial light sources, such as your smartphone or laptop. Doing this can reset your biological clock and help you sleep longer.
“Blue Light” has been a commonly touted phrase by certain British press outlets, referring to backlit screens that actually suppress your body’s production of melatonin - a crucial hormone that helps you feel tired and sleepy. Without that, that tiredness goes away, so that late night Tinder swiping session could be more harmful than you think (minus the particular characters you get on there nowadays).
But the risks don’t just stop at feeling tired… Lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain and getting into more accidents.
So what’s the fix? Go outside and leave those devices behind, according to the authors of a study recently published in Current Biology.
They tested this by firstly taking one party on a camping trip up the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for six days. One team were not allowed flashlights and electronics, whereas the others were. Saliva samples were taken and analysed during this time, to see how melatonin levels were affected.
This data was compared to their regular week at home and they found melatonin levels rise 2.5 hours sooner on the camping trip. Away from artificial light and in the wilderness, subjects slept two and a half hours longer.
After this, they did a like-for-like comparison by sending another five people up the Rocky Mountains and analysed five other people at home during the same time. The results, again, showed the benefit of an artificial light-free phase - with campers going to bed nearly two hours earlier.
It’s an eye-opening read and one that this blogger with a screen-filled life will learn from. But what if you have an allergy to camping (there are some of you out there)? Not to worry, just take a few hours away from your screens and enjoy the great outdoors over the weekend, and don’t use your phone just before going to sleep. Your brain will thank you for the extra rest!
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I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.