Can Living Without Clocks Help You Sleep Better?

[Photo: Pexels]
[Photo: Pexels]

Imagine a world with no time restraints; no alarm clocks buzzing at 7.30am to get you out of bed, no worrying about schedules or timetables or stressing that you’re going to be late.

Well, at Camp Grounded’s four “adult summer camps” in USA, that’s what life is like. As well as a ban on all tech, the digital detox retreats have no clocks on site, encouraging its guests to “rise with the sun”. And, according to US journalist Greg Ferenstein who reviewed the retreat, one happy side effect of living without time was how much better he slept.

So can clocks have a direct impact on the amount or quality of sleep you get?

“Often people, especially those who wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep or struggle to nod off in the first place, find themselves clock watching and counting down the hours until they need to get up,” explains Lisa Artis, a sleep advisor at the Sleep Council. “This in turn creates a stressful environment for sleep.”

Of course, removing clocks from your life and living only by the sun sounds ideal when you’re in a Californian wilderness, but in real life with jobs and appointments and actual stuff to do, it’s not so practical.

As a simple step to help you sleep, Maryanne Taylor, a sleep consultant and founder of The Sleep Works, recommends turning your alarm clock around to help let go of timings.

There haven’t been many studies into whether or not living without clocks has a positive effect on sleep. And of course, it might not be the lack of clocks that helped Ferenstein sleep so well while he was in Camp Grounded, but the lack of stress. And it’s pretty common knowledge that stress is no friend to sleep.

“It is possible to use some practical techniques to take away the tyranny of time, so you reduce stress,” says Sharon Stiles, a hypnotherapist and cognitive behavioural therapist. “Most people try to cram as much as possible into a day so it helps to be realistic about the amount of time each activity in your day takes. For example, if a journey to work takes 30 minutes, leave 45. Then if you get stuck in traffic you won’t get stressed about arriving late.

Stiles also says that it can be a good idea to look at how you spend your day, and figure out some ways to reduce the time you spend on these things. “This may involve some sacrifices but think about the reduced stress that you will gain in return,” she says. “Often we just carry on doing things because we have always done them or they have just piled up. Experiment with changing them to see if life improves.”

“Often the first time that people stop in a day is when they get into bed,” says Taylor. “This is when their mind starts to collect all the thoughts and anxieties, so having some time during the day for these thoughts to process is better. Even have 15-20 minutes during the day to take time out to listen to music or a short meditation app.”

It might not be possible to live all your life by Camp Grounded’s rules, but Artis says that being more strict with yourself about your screen time could improve your sleep. “It’s imperative that you avoid screen time at least an hour before bed. Instead, find alternative ways of relaxing such as reading, light yoga, or listening to soothing music,” she says.

Do you think living without clocks would ease stress and help you sleep? Let us know @YahooStyleUK.

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