Alongside nutrition and exercise, sleep is often described as the third pillar of health. But good sleep is not just a matter of clocking up 8 hours each night. It’s also about the quality of your night’s rest.
Sleep quality can be influenced by any number of things, including stress and anxiety, noise, artificial light temperature and air quality.
Several studies in recent years have shown that one surprising method for banishing sleepless nights is moving from sleeping indoors to the fresh air of the outdoors, in a camping tent or hammock.
So, if this summer you’re considering ways to enjoy a great holiday and feel super-rested at the same time, we’re going to explore 7 reasons why sleeping under the stars is great for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
The study explains “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.” Sleeping outdoors and waking up to the brightening sunlight is the most natural way to waken, and the benefit is you won’t be as grumpy in the mornings!
2) Changes to our melatonin levels
How often have you stayed up a little too late? Reading more chapters than you should. Watching one too many episodes. Those evenings could be the reason you couldn’t fall asleep and why you’re still restless at 3am with a 7am start.
A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston found that exposure to indoor fluorescent lighting prior to bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality. It suppresses the production of the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and wakefulness, and in turn can effect “the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure and glucose levels.”
3) Increases your immunity levels
Research has shown that the chemical that plants give off to protect themselves, phytoncides, can also protects humans. The Japanese discovered this long ago and even have a name for it – shinrin-yoku or forest-bathing.
A study showed that people who walked through a forest for two hours a day showed lower concentrations of cortisol, lower blood pressure and lower pulse rates.
The study found that being outdoors boosted the levels of white blood cells, and anticancer proteins, and that even a one day trip to a park can boost immune activity for at least a week.
4) Fresh air improves your body and brain functions
Your brain uses the majority of the oxygen we breathe in. It’s not surprising that the better quality we breathe in, the better it works. A night outside in the fresh air, improves our ability to think.
Not only this, but it means that better quality oxygen gets to the muscles in the body. The fresh air also helps break down lactic acid better, so if you decide to engage in some early morning yoga or a morning run after your nights sleep, the fresh air will help you to recover even faster than you usually would.
5) Stale air is detrimental to the body
If you have an air conditioning system in your house there is a good chance that the air is stale. Even if you don’t, the lack of proper ventilation inside the house means that there is most likely a significant amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) inside your house.
Research has shown that stuffy, CO2-dense rooms can slow your metabolism and lead to you feeling more lethargic. As detailed in the previous item, fresh air helps to improve brain and body function, so by the same token stale air has the opposite effect. A night under the stars can help to counter act this by giving you the fresh air to clear out the stale air from your lungs, brain and muscles.
6) Reduce stress
A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior showed that simply seeing trees is proven to relieve stress. Even just looking at a picture of a tree is proven to lower blood pressure and cortisol. Looking at actual real life trees has the same effect, but on a much bigger scale.
If you can get out into a wooded area when you sleep outside, not only will you be getting all of the physical benefits from being outdoors, but your mental health will be getting a boost too.
It’s not just trees that reduce your stress levels though, the calming sounds of the outdoors is shown to help to reduce stress levels and calm your mood. There is a reason why a lot of calming music uses wildlife or nature noises to help babies and adults rest easier.
Setting up an instant tent and camping in the wild is the most efficient way to escape from the noise of traffic to lower your stress levels and make sure you nights sleep is a good one!
7) Finding your inner peace
Life always makes things difficult for you. Be it work, warring friends or just feeling overwhelmed at everything going on. Getting out there and disconnecting from the rat race really does wonders for your inner peace. Depending on your personality or circumstances, you may want to go alone or socially with friends.
If you need to have some time alone a nights camping and resting outdoors can leave you feeling calm, refreshed and reinvigorated. If you just need a good night with friends, there is no better place to do it than out in the woods in an environment with fresh air and less stress. A night out camping in the woods, or even your balcony, will give you everything you need to reset yourself and get over the hardships of a week at work.
There’s some great benefits to your health by simply having a good nights sleep outdoors without the distractions of electronics, or closed curtains. Letting the rising sun naturally wake you up ensures a great start to the day, where you will be ready to face anything!
Jeff is the founder and editor-in-chief at Sleep Junkies . A passionate sleep advocate, he started the site in 2012, reaching millions of readers across the globe. Jeff also runs the product curation platform SleepGadgets.io . He is often asked to speak at about current trends in consumer sleep technology at various events.