Do you care for someone who is an insomniac? Or maybe it is you who has trouble sleeping?


Do you care for someone who is an insomniac? Or maybe it is you who has trouble sleeping?

Does this make your next day at work exhausting and unproductive?

The vital importance of getting adequate sound sleep has been well researched and now there is a new study that gives a clue as to how we can get back into a normal sleeping pattern and improve our health. The cure is as simple as getting back in touch with nature.

The study, published in the science journal Current Biology, found that ‘living in the modern electrical lighting environment delays the human circadian clock’ and that a weekend camping trip (or turning off the night-time lights) can quickly reset it.

Unlike the control group – whose members stayed up late at night and slept in later than usual while at home – the campers in the study maintained their regular sleep schedule. This prevented the ‘social jetlag’ that contributes to Monday morning grogginess that occurs because of the body clock shifting later over the weekend (because we tend to stay up later and use more light-emitting devices on weekends).

Without being thrown off by artificial light, the campers’ biological night had naturally lengthened – as it does with animals. “This has been assumed but never demonstrated,” said one of the 11-member research team, Professor Kenneth Wright, from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“When light hits photoreceptors in the eye, it alters the master clock which then signals a cascade of events that impact rhythms in our body, influencing not only when we sleep and rise, but also the timing of hormone releases that impact appetite, metabolism and more.

“Our studies suggest that our internal clock responds strongly and quite rapidly to the natural light-dark cycle.”

Professor Wright believes his findings could help light-based approaches for boosting work performance, quelling seasonal depression and circadian sleep-wake disorders.

“Living in our modern environments can significantly delay our circadian timing, and late circadian timing is associated with many health consequences,” he said.

According to the Medical Journal of Australia, population surveys have shown that between 13 and 33 per cent of the adult population have regular difficulty either getting to sleep or staying asleep.

So, if you have been on a nightshift or have jet lag, try and shift your body clock back to normal by going out into the daylight for as much of the day as you can, then turning off the lights at sundown and getting around with a candle.

Do not watch TV, use a mobile phone, computer or tablet device, as these devices emit the same light frequency as sunlight, so they switch off the body’s timely production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. This is turn impacts our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and have good quality sleep.

We should take actions that keep us ‘in tune’ with our natural body rhythm, which is to go to sleep around 9 or 10pm and wake up at 6 or 7am – the most natural and innate rhythm of our bodies.

Read more about the research here: