Researchers at the University of Colorado carried out two studies examining the positive impact that camping may have on your body, especially if you don’t get enough sleep, including help with depression and resetting our internal clocks.

The team found that only a few days in the woods may sync your internal clock with the rising and falling sun, according to a press release from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Results showed that after camping for a few days, people get in bed about two hours earlier and experience reduced feelings of tiredness, even if they’re getting fewer hours of sleep.

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The paper was just published in Current Biology.

Participants were recruited to go on several camping trips, after which the research team tested and quantified results by examining levels of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep and gets the body ready to wind down for the night.

Researchers worked with 14 volunteers to better understand what effects camping can have on your health. For the first experiment, nine participants spent a weekend in the woods, which resulted in melatonin rising about 1.4 hours earlier than before. Meanwhile, the other five participants who stayed home stayed up later and slept later; they experienced a later shift in their internal clock.

For the second study, five volunteers camped for an entire week where they went to bed earlier and slept longer. Upon returning from seven days in the wilderness, researchers used saliva to test their melatonin levels, which started to rise 2.6 hours earlier.

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“Weekend exposure to natural light was sufficient to achieve 69 percent of the shift in circadian timing we previously reported after a week’s exposure to natural light,” lead author Kenneth Wright said in the press release.

Source: Stothard ER, McHill AW, Depner CM, Birks BR, Moehlman TM, Ritchie HK, et al. Circadian Entrainment to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle across Seasons and the Weekend. Current Biology. 2017.

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