advertisement

Sleep Disorders

Updated 22 September 2015

Being closer to nature can improve your quality of sleep

Men and seniors have better sleeping patterns when they have access to outdoor setting such as beaches or parks.

Getting close to nature might improve the quality of your sleep, new research suggests.

Seniors and men sleep more soundly if they have access to natural surroundings, such as beaches or parks, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.

"It's hard to overestimate the importance of high-quality sleep," study author Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois.

"Studies show that inadequate sleep is associated with declines in mental and physical health, reduced cognitive function and increased obesity," she said in a university news release. "This new study shows that exposure to a natural environment may help people get the sleep they need."

Read: Sleep addiction 

More than 255,000 adults from across the United States were surveyed about their quality of sleep in the previous month. Most said they slept poorly fewer than seven nights during the month.

But those who said they slept poorly on 21 to 29 nights were less likely to have access to green spaces or other natural areas than those who said they slept poorly on fewer than seven nights.

The link between good sleep and exposure to natural areas was much stronger for men than for women, the researchers found.

Living near parks and other natural areas can boost seniors' physical activity levels, which can help them sleep better, Grigsby-Toussaint explained.

Read: Room light can affect sleep quality

She said the stronger link between green spaces and sleep among men could reflect women's reluctance to take advantage of such areas out of concern for their safety. More research is needed to understand this difference, she said.

"If there is a way for persons over 65 to spend time in nature, it would improve the quality of their sleep and their quality of life if they did so," Grigsby-Toussaint said.

The results provide an incentive for nursing homes and retirement communities to design buildings with nature trails and dedicated garden spaces, and to provide safe, inviting outdoor areas, she added.

Read more:

Too much, too little sleep linked to heart woes

Help teens get the sleep they need

Sinus surgery may ease sleep apnoea


 

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules