Access to Nature May Improve Sleep Quality for Men and Seniors
The results of a new US study show that access to nature may help to significantly improve quality of sleep for men and seniors. The study was led by the University of Illinois and published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
Researchers analysed data on 255,171 adults, and found poor sleep quality to be linked to having fewer natural environments nearby. Participants who reported having insufficient sleep on 21-29 days in the previous month had consistently lower odds of access to nature than those who reported insufficient sleep on 1-6 days. Interestingly, this link was strongest in men in general, and both men and women over the age of 65.
Senior author Diane Grigsby-Toussaint, professor of kinesiology and community health, suggests that people who live closer to green spaces are likely to have higher levels of physical activity, so this may contribute to the improved quality of sleep. She says that this may be why the link was more pronounced in men – because women may be less likely to venture into natural spaces.
However, there is no evidence from the study to clarify the reason behind the link because it did not investigate whether the respondents actually made use of the natural spaces – just whether they were available.
Nevertheless, Professor Grigsby Toussaint says that the findings suggest exposure to natural environments could help people get the sleep they need to maintain good health. “Our results provide an incentive for nursing homes and communities with many retired residents to design buildings with more lighting, create nature trails and dedicated garden spaces, and provide safe outdoor areas that encourage outdoor activity for men and women.”