But the work may offer clues about the tiredness that plagues many night owls. Other studies have shown that our low point in alertness, when melatonin production is shutting off in the morning, tends to occur about two hours after awakening.
"We wake up, but then our clock still promotes sleepiness, and we don't feel well," explains Dijk, whose research group first described this unfortunate paradox. After the week of camping, participants' melatonin shutoff occurred before they awoke instead of after. Wright says that the discrepancy between our melatonin cycle and our sleep-wake cycle could account for our morning sleepiness, an explanation Dijk calls "an interesting suggestion" that needs more thorough study.
Because we're not going to abandon our electrified existence anytime soon, Wright says that certain habits can counteract our estrangement from the sun. He recommends letting plenty of light into your room in the morning, exposing yourself to more natural light throughout the day, and dimming the lighting in your home a couple hours before bed.