It’s a known fact that human beings need sleep in order to function properly. People can feel the difference between a good night’s sleep that leaves them fresh and well-rested and a bad one which leaves them cranky and off for the rest of the day.
Two independent studies both recently confirmed that during the sleep cycle, our brain gets the chance to recharge and prepare for the mental challenges of the following day. Both studies were published in the prominent journal, Science.
A group of scientists from John Hopkins University Baltimore studied mice brains in order to carry out their study. They found that our synapses, which are responsible for transmitting information, develop and modify in order to strengthen our memories. Lead author of the study Graham Diering confirmed this phenomenon “Our findings solidly advance the idea that the mouse and presumably the human brain can only store so much information before it needs to recalibrate”
Sleep deprivation and disorders, as well as sleeping pills, all have an adverse effect on this development process. A second similar study carried out by researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of California studied the synapses over a four-year period and discovered that they decrease in size when the mice got fewer hours of sleep leading to weaker synapses and consequently, weaker memories.
As a solution to poor sleep, a third group of researchers from the University of Colorado provide us with an answer; camping. Considering that the major causes of in lousy sleep is the absence of natural light during the day and absolute darkness at night, a night outdoors in the wilderness provides the perfect setting for a good night’s sleep. These scientists studied the sleep and wake cycles of a group of campers in Colorado and compared their melatonin levels to that of another group who slept in the city, discovering that even 2 nights away from artificial light, led to a rise in melatonin levels, which in turn leads to better quality sleep.
“Living in our modern environments can significantly delay our circadian timing and late circadian timing is associated with many health consequences,” stated lead researcher Kenneth Wright.
So if you’re feeling a bit cranky, it might be time to get back to nature and reset your internal clock this weekend.