May 24, 2018

Let's face it: You're probably not sleeping enough. In fact, over a third of all Canadians admit to getting less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night - and that can lead to some serious health concerns! Some of us lose sleep due to stress, noise levels, air quality, an uncomfortable mattress, or shift work... but the biggest offender by far is the artificial blue light coming from our cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions.

Unfortunately, modern life just isn't built with a healthy sleep schedule in mind! All of those artificial light sources that we deal with on a daily basis can throw your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm completely out of whack. Bright lights trick our body into staying in "daytime mode" even when it's dark outside, leading to late nights and groggy mornings. Luckily, there is a quick fix that can help you get your body and mind back in sync with the natural world: go camping this weekend!

It shouldn't be surprising that ditching the smart phone and television for a weekend can help you return to a more natural sleep rhythm. But there's more to it than meets the eye! Getting out into the Great Outdoors can lead to some serious benefits in your overall sleep quality. Here's why:

1. Camping exposes you to the natural day/night cycle.

Even just one night out in the stars can help you reset your sleep schedule. If you wake up to sunlight and spend your day outside, you'll naturally start to feel tired as the sun goes down. That's because your body takes cues from the natural world to tell you when to feel sleepy and when to feel alert - you produce more melatonin when you're exposed to true darkness, leading to a longer and deeper sleep!

2. Camping keeps you cool at night.

You might think that sleeping in a tent out in the cold would keep you awake, but the opposite is true! As temperatures drop in the evening, your body sends signals to your brain that it's time to "cool off" and rest for the day. You might actually find yourself feeling tired much sooner than you usually do simply due to the forced darkness and cool temperatures!

3. Camping keeps you away from artificial light sources.

No cell service? No problem! You'll be so busy enjoying your holiday that you won't want to check up on social media anyway. Without the distraction of televisions, tablets, cell phones, and computers, you won't have to worry about blue light messing with your melatonin levels.

4. Camping forces you to sleep on your back.

When you're bundled up in a sleeping bag, it's hard to get comfortable on your side or stomach - and that's great for the quality of your sleep! As long as you bring a good pillow along, your head, neck, and back will be ideally supported. You'll be able to breathe comfortably and won't move around too much through the night. Plus, some studies have shown that sleeping with a weighted blanket can help insomnia - so bundling up extra tight with a thick blanket on top of you isn't a bad idea!

5. Camping reduces stress.

There's no doubt about it: studies have shown time and time again that getting out into nature can reduce stress and make you happier - and taking a short holiday from your everyday stresses can't hurt! Studies have shown that even looking at a picture of a tree can reduce your stress levels, but it's not just the sight of nature that helps. There's a reason why so many guided meditations and calming songs include the sounds of nature like rushing water, wildlife, and rustling leaves: we're just meant to be outside! The less stress you are feeling before you go to sleep, the more rested you'll feel in the morning - so get out there and enjoy the Great Outdoors this camping season!