The words “camping” and “good night’s sleep” don’t usually go together, but researchers at the University of Colorado say that a week without artificial light could be all it takes to reset the body’s natural clock and return to health sleep patterns. A new study titled “Entrainment of the Human Circadian Clock to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle” published in Current Biology, argues that our “increased use of electrical light and reduced exposure to natural light caused modern humans to stray away from natural sleep patters and leads to overall lower sleep quality.”
The new study, conducted by Dr. Kenneth Wright and colleagues from the University of Colorado, concluded that modern humans go to sleep later and later, and find it harder and harder to wake up in the morning.
“After exposure to natural light, we found the timing of the circadian clock to be approximately two hours earlier and [sleep-promoting hormone] melatonin offset to occur more than 50 minutes prior to wake time, suggesting that if human circadian and sleep timing was in synchrony with the natural light-dark cycle, the circadian low point in brain arousal would move to before the end of the sleep episode, making it easier to awaken in the morning,” the researchers found.
Dr Nicole Lovato, a sleep expert and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Flinders University, described the research as “a novel approach to research aimed understanding the basic physiological processes which govern our daily lives. It confirms existing knowledge regarding the effect of light exposure on the circadian rhythm, or body clock, and its timing in humans,” said Dr Lovato, who was not involved in the study.