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Does Nature Really Help Us Sleep?

Sleep:

Over one-quarter of the population suffers from inadequate sleep, which causes challenges to our health, concentration, and safety. Protecting sleep is important because it is a crucial marker of physical, mental, and social health and is often one of the first elements to become unbalanced when things aren’t quite right.


Our sleep can be very sensitive and is important to prioritise. Setting up a great foundation of sleep hygiene is the best starting point, but what can we do from here?


Nature:

Nature has been found to have a restorative quality, this means it is physically rejuvenating and improves mental health by connecting us to the environment.


Studies have found that access to nature can protect against short sleep duration. Research on forest bathing found that sleep was actually increased by up to an hour after spending mindful time outdoors!


Hectic lives create stress which can prevent us from achieving good sleep. Green space allows us to be more mindful, which benefits our cognitive and emotional systems. It is thought that humans’ affinity to more natural surroundings may be due to our experience throughout evolution.


Natural green spaces require little of our mind’s resources and attention, making it a great way to destress. The natural world can make us feel connected, relaxed, and rejuvenated, not only in the moment but when our head hits the pillow too!


Some tips from The Little Sleep Company:

  • Getting outside for at least 30 minutes every day may help to improve your sleep by calming your mind and allowing you to decompress.

  • Getting lots of natural light by opening blinds and curtains can help regulate your hormones that tell your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) when to fire up certain systems.

  • Allowing the fresh air in by opening windows for ventilation

  • Surround yourself with a greener environment; this can be both indoor and outdoor plants!

  • Take your exercise regime outdoors; getting out into a park or your garden to do some yoga, walk or run is an excellent way to kill two birds with one stone. You could even join your local outdoor swimming pool or take your dip in the sea instead.

  • Mix it up; you don’t have to stick to the same block; make an effort to go to different areas such as nearby woodlands, hills, or beaches. Making this time more enjoyable offers added benefits by focusing your attention and making you more present.

  • Something is better than nothing. Even if you can only spare 5 minutes, why not take your coffee outside during your break or have your family picnic at supper time?

  • Find what feels most restorative to you. Some people find walking alone more restorative, whereas others may feel much better after going out with family and friends. Science tells us that age, gender, relationship status, and personality can change our emotional response to nature; finding what fits you can help you get the most out of nature.

If you found this interesting you can read my full research paper on this topic here!


Restorative Quality Dissertation
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Download • 658KB



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