In the summer months, getting outdoors is a must. Hiking, camping, fishing, walking, swimming, and gardening are a few of the opportunities the longer summer days afford.
But have you ever thought to sleep outside more during the summer to improve your sleeping habits? Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are essential for a healthy life, but for some people, sleep falls behind. We get busy and keep our phones next to our pillow.
Sleeping outside could switch up your routine and is easiest in your backyard. If you have a fenced in space with access to the indoor facilities, you can purchase a hammock, tent, or camp out under the stars.
Though some may argue that the benefits of sleeping on a mattress outweigh nature, there are seven reasons why sleeping outdoors could be the best medicine for your restless nights.
Exposure to natural light.
Blue light from electronics is unnatural -- this should not come as a surprise. But few of us are getting enough natural light to recharge our body’s circadian rhythm. By recharging and leaving the artificial light indoors, we sleep more soundly.
Improve your melatonin.
If melatonin regulates sleep and wakefulness, then staying indoors under fluorescent bulbs is a definite issue to balancing good levels. Melatonin makes us feel tired. Levels of the hormone rise a couple of hours before we sleep, and they fall right when we wake up. By providing the body some natural light, your melatonin equalizes for bedtime.
Increase your immunity.
Forest-bathing is probably a new term to most reading this blog. Popular in Japanese culture, it is surrounding yourself with trees to improve your immune system. "Various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects actually improves immune system function."
Breathe in the fresh air.
Speaking of forest-bathing, one study found that tree-lined environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments. Long term inhalation of stagnant air indoors or in the city can be remedied with some fresh air.
Reduce anxiety and stress.
Think about all the stress plaguing your life: work, budgets, relationships, school, health, and raising kids. Each take a toll on your body. By unplugging and sleeping outdoors, you can bring a good book and get back to nature with the help of the stars and crickets chirping.
If sound machines can create a zen for your stress, the outdoors is the sounding board.
Discover your inner peace.
Yoga and meditation are just two ways to help prepare for a good night’s sleep. With the outdoors, you can enjoy the sunset or quietness of nature to help calm your anxiety.
What do I need to sleep outdoors?
It really is simple. Depending on your backyard, you could string some lights up on the back of the house to have some light in the dark or bring a lantern. You could hammock for the night, pop up a tent, or sleep on any outdoor furniture you may have.
If you are traveling with kids, consider what your child needs even if the climate varies. For example, if you have a heavy sweater at night, bring a lightweight sleeping bag.
A sleeping bag and cot or mat does the trick as well. Here are some items to bring for the backyard or for when you venture out camping.
- Ear plugs: Block out rustling of leaves or brush and even a snoring friend that is your tent mate.
- Eye masks: Important for trips in the northern latitudes or if you plan to camp in an area where it is daytime all day.
- Mattresses and pads: Air mattresses can be blown-up without electrical outlets and pads can be purchased at different sizes and level of thickness. Hammocks are another option to avoid the need of a heavy pad since they can easily be carried and tied to two trees. Keep in mind that whatever your choice pick an easy to carry option for your backpack or to carry to a campsite.
- Sleeping bags: Depending on the climate and tent size, talk to a professional before purchasing a sleeping bag. You may need a warmer bag for some seasons or locations or a wider bag for car-camping. There are a lot of choices so do not get overwhelmed.
- Pillows: For some, the pillow is critical from a master bedroom to a hotel room to a tent. Once again, depending on your trip distance choose a pillow either inflatable, travel, or full-size based upon your trip.
For those suffering from apnea who need their CPAP handy, luckily you can sleep outdoors without the need for electricity.
A few options are available with strong battery life while traveling. And if backpacking or camping grants little space in your pack, the Z1 is the lightest CPAP machine on the market at only 10 ounces and 6.5 inches long.
Purchasing the Z1 from Alaska Sleep Clinic grants customers a trained DME technician that will call within 24-48 hours of purchase.
A second option is the Transcend Auto Mini CPAP weighs less than one pound and is a fully-featured APAP with EZEX pressure relief technology providing more breathing comfort. Unique to this CPAP with a “military grade construction” is Transcend’s 14-hour battery and solar panel recharge ability.
Other options include a rechargeable portable power supply or utilizing your vehicle’s battery. The great news is the Transcend model is FAA approved so if plan travel is part of your destination, it is a safe accessory.
What better time to start than now! With summer still hanging on through September, be adventurous and try a night outdoors this weekend.
This blog just skimmed the surface on the benefits of sleeping outdoors.
Once you are ready to venture from your backyard to the greater outdoors, modern technology and experts in the camping sections of stores can ease your travel away from home with your CPAP machine and accessories to enjoy the great outdoors. It is not fair to limit your adventures to the conditions you suffer at night.
If you're needing any additional information on traveling with a CPAP machine where you may be disconnected from everyday modern accommodations, or would like to purchase a travel specific CPAP machine, feel free to contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic.