Access to nature may improve sleep

Nature

Having a tough time catching quality Zs? Spending more time out in nature may help.

In a new study put out by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers found that people—particularly men—slept better when natural settings were within reach. Similar findings were reported for people 65 and older.

Researchers say that natural surroundings could be anything from a local park to a nearby beach.

For the study, U f I researchers teamed up with the NYU School of Medicine to analyze survey responses from over 255,000 adults in the U.S. They specifically zeroed in on the connection between poor sleep and access to “green space.” Researchers discovered that respondents who’d slept badly for 21 to 29 days of the previous month were also less likely to have access to natural surroundings.

Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, who is a professor of kinesiology and community health at U of I, says that living close to natural amenities appears to increase physical activity levels. This, in turn, might foster better sleep habits. In a press release, Grigsby-Toussaint added that people over the age of 65 would likely improve their sleep habits and overall quality of life if they spent time out in nature.

The idea that natural settings are good for your health isn’t new. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending time in a forest setting improves blood pressure, reduces stress, boosts the immune system and improves sleep, among other benefits.

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