Stacy and I spent our holiday Independence Day weekend at a state park up in northern Wisconsin, 5-hours north of Chicago, to get away from the city and to simply unplug. Feeling rejuvenated, rested and fulfilled coming back, (though a longer break would have been really great) I thought I’d do a bit of research to see if there was any validity to support my feelings. Low and behold there is! I’ll highlight just a couple of the findings here and leave other findings to explore perhaps another time.
Improved sleep – One of the first things I noticed from the first morning waking up in the tent was how well I’d slept. Stacy said she had as well. Reflecting on both of the nights we slept in our 3-man tent over the long weekend, I noted how quickly I’d fallen asleep versus when settling down on a typical night at home in bed in Chicago. There are a likely couple of main reasons I found falling asleep so easy in the tent.
No “blue light”
Aside from a momentary search online on how to cook corn-on-the-cob in a campfire, I was otherwise near-completely unplugged for 4-days. I didn’t have my cell phone to distract me nor to rely on to distract my mind as I settled down. I simply closed my eyes and fell asleep.
Looking more into smartphones the impact on sleep, I’ve learned more of how the light, specifically what is called blue light, from our smart phones suppresses melatonin which is a sleep and circadian rhythm supporting hormone. No doubt that not having a smartphone on helped me fall asleep more quickly. Perhaps I’ll write more about these studies later, but if you want more in-depth insight on smartphones and sleep now, click here.
Being in natural light
However, I don’t believe it was only the lack of blue light that triggered easy-sleep.I also researched on how being outdoors impacts your sleep. What I’ve learned is that staying outside and being in natural light helps your body’s internal body clock (our circadian rhythm) aligned with the sun’s schedule and thus, helps with our own sleep schedule. No doubt I experienced this over the weekend. Sleeping was deep and restful!
I don’t need research studies to know that Chicago’s city air has more air pollution than a state park in northern Wisconsin! Despite that, there is still research available to further prove how fresh air increases our sense of happiness and calm, cleans our lungs, improves our breathing and brings more oxygen to our brain. Fresh air also helps with digestion, your heart rate and blood pressure, help your immune system fight bacteria and germs, and give you more energy! None of that is too bad now is it?! For more insights on those benefits, click here or here.
In summary, the weekend away was a great, rejuvenating experience. We both were able to share some quality time together, go on a couple of hikes, eat some great campfire-cooked foods, capture some deep, restful sleep and come back refreshed.
Making time to get out into the great outdoors and simply be with nature can’t be overstated. For a great place to find a reserve some camp-time yourself, check out Reserve America. Your body and mind will thank you.