Enjoy the Great Outdoors
On average, teenagers don’t get enough sleep. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. A lot of the reasoning isn’t early wake up calls or late-night study sessions. It’s bad habits and too much light pollution from our phones and other gadgets.
Recent research shows that two days of exposure to the natural light and total darkness (that’s only available outside away from city lights) resets our internal clocks, allowing us to fall asleep and wake up when we’re supposed to. By resetting our clock, we can establish a more natural routine at home, which allows us to have more satisfying sleep.
Head outdoors for a two-day camping trip. Summer is the time you’re supposed to regroup from the school year, so make two nights of camping one of the first things you do during break.
Go to bed when it gets dark – as tempting as it is to stay up late telling ghost stories around the campfire, it defeats the purpose. Being exposed to the natural cycle of a day increases the hormone melatonin which helps regulate sleep and promotes sleep at an earlier hour. Then, wake up when the sun comes up.
During the summer:
Stick to this schedule. It’s hard not to go out with your friends at night but opt for daytime outings instead. If your schedule does get off, then plan another camping trip before school starts again so you can reestablish that good sleeping pattern.
Your regular routine:
Establish a routine bedtime that is the same every day. Keep that bedtime during the weekends and vacations. The same goes for when you wake up. Avoid caffeine and large meals near bedtime. Turn off smartphones, laptops, televisions and other devises with screens two hours before bedtime. During the day, access bright natural light, especially in the morning. Throw open those curtains or head outside to help maintain a natural cycle.
Our bodies respond so quickly to the simplicity of a camping trip because we’ve secluded ourselves from natural light due to our typical indoor environment. A pattern of delayed sleep is associated with obesity, diabetes, mood disorders and other health problems. Getting proper sleep is good for long term health. It’s not something you want to take lightly.