For me it was only giving up caffeine that made me realise how powerful a stimulant it actually is. If you're in a daily routine in which you're routinely and regularly drinking caffeine throughout the day then it's almost certain that it is impacting your sleep cycle. If you're drinking caffeine in the evening and still sleeping at night you're probably exhausted or at least over tired.
I'd recommend to anyone cutting it out for 2 - 3 weeks just to understand it and allow you to better work out how you want to use that effect. For me that means first thing in the morning and as needed (I have a 15 month old daughter - that can be fairly often) but never in the evening and rarely in the afternoon.
Certainly if you wanted to reboot your sleep schedule I think stopping it would be significant. If nothing else then for a heavy coffee drinker the added tiredness caused by removing the additional stimulation would help you sleep earlier.
More on the impact of caffeine on sleep and sleep in general in Counting Sheep by Paul Martin (http://www.amazon.com/Counting-Sheep-Science-Pleasures-Dream...). It's a bit long and in places but it's worth reading despite that if you're interesting in understanding sleep.
I have a 24 month old daughter and she is attacking me as I typo these wor .';;= =-p3r=0oi, m \weprkg!!!!!!!
For the chronically sleep-deprived, cutting back may be enough to show serious effects. I cut down to two caffeinated drinks a day during the summer (usually tea or coffee in the morning and a soda in the afternoon). I was dragging around for the first week or two, but doing physical work (home renovation!) helped with that. I definitely needed the respite from the high-caffeine hijinx that characterise the academic year for me.
After about 3 to 4 days of doing this my sleep schedule settled on its own accord. On most days, I now sleep at around midnight and sometimes perhaps in the afternoon for a bit. Some days I don't sleep at all because I don't feel sleepy but that corrects in a few days to become normal again.
For me this is remarkable, I used to be an extreme example of a night owl.
The only problem with this is that camping isn't something that you can just go out and do, especially if you have any sort of obligation (work, school).
I recently "reset" my sleep schedule from sleeping at 4am to sleeping at 12am. It wasn't really that hard, and I didn't use anything tricky or uncomfortable, like starving myself beforehand. All you really have to do is climb into bed two hours before you went sleeping the previous night, and start reading. I find that reading puts you in a much more relaxed state, and after an hour or so, I don't drift off to sleep so much as it hits me like a train. :) You can knock back your sleep schedule almost an hour a day through this strategy.
The other advantage of this is that you get to do a lot of reading.
From the article there doesn't seem to be much special about camping other than it removes much of the artificial control we exert over our environment (light, noise and so on). Just willingly stopping those things would be a big step in moving back into a rhythm which was more in step with the natural day / night cycle.
I regularly go camping and have to agree with everything the author says. The physical exertion (setting up camp, building a fire, walking around etc) lack of environmental controls and natural light certainly correct any day / night in balance immediately.
Though, since I finished University I have found that just having to get to work for 9am each morning takes care of most problems. Other than the occasional nights bad sleep, usually caused by being fascinated by some programming problem or even a real life issue!
Automatically waking up with the sun streaming through the window was a wonderful experience and I felt well rested, but, for privacy reasons, the curtains had to go back up.
I've slept in rooms with East-facing windows where I would always wake up around 6:30-7. I've also slept in rooms with West-facing windows, where I could very easily sleep till 11.
Works well for me in the winter. Summer not so much.
That seems like a bigger deal than shifting the schedule. I imagine it's much easier to feel rested in the morning if you're getting 2+ hours of sleep more than you used to.
- The lack of artificial light
You don't have to go camping to have that.
When camping in good weather I always feel refreshed upon waking up.
I'd always put this down to spending a lot of time camping in the wilds of Scotland when I was younger - where I spent a lot of time dozing/sleeping listening to rain.
Look on the positive side: by sleeping from 4-5am to 9-10am, you have both day and night! While "normal" people have only day and evening.
Thirdly, after you come back from your short camping trip, you’ll not easily fall back into your old schedule.
I've reset my schedule a couple of times and I can say that falling back to the old schedule was a piece of cake.
I don't recommend my sleep hack for everyone though, it's probably only easy if you have a really easy time staying up 4 hours later than usual but find it almost impossible to get up even one hour earlier.
I just got back from a long weekend camping. We hiked 8+ miles Saturday and Sunday, and I was so tired last night I went to bed at 8PM (no joke). Thursday night, I went to bed at 1AM.
More generally, I've found that exercise helps a lot with moving my schedule earlier, just because I'm tired. If you're out camping, you tend to be active all day (there aren't many non-active activities in the woods), which helps a lot.
I didn't see the article you're referring to (can't seem to find it), but I'll try taking a morning walk as well. Sounds like a peaceful way to start the day.
I head out around 10PM and drink beer or whisky repeatedly until I'm completely intoxicated. By 2AM or so all I want to do is go to sleep.
Or it might just be me who object to sleeping outside in subzero weather.