Still Can’t Sleep? Get Outside!

Sleep is clearly on our radar. As discussed in our previous blog post, sleep is something important to be guarded at all costs. Getting a good night’s sleep can make everything that much better. Scientists recently discovered one more way to sleep better:

Get outside!

Researchers and scientists from the University of Illinois and the New York University School of Medicine used data from the Center For Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to see if exposure to natural environments reduced the number of (self-reported) nights with insufficient sleep in adults.

Their recent study, “Sleep Insufficiency and the Natural Environment: Results from the U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey” in the September issue of Preventive Medicine, discovered an association between insufficient sleep and lack of access to green space. In general, men slept better when they had access to natural surroundings and more specifically, in men and women over the age of 65, they found as their exposure to nature increased, so did their quality of sleep.

According to professor of kinesiology and lead researcher, Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, “Studies show that inadequate sleep is associated with declines in mental and physical health, reduced cognitive function, and increased obesity. This new study shows that exposure to a natural environment may help people get the sleep they need.”

This begs the question: do people who spend more time in nature also tend to exercise more and thus exercise may be the real reason for the better zzz’s? Perhaps. If you are sleeping better, does it really matter?

Wondering why this didn’t ring true for women under the age of 65? The research team’s best guess is that women may spend less time in natural surroundings due to concerns about personal safety but more research needs to be conducted to see if this is indeed true.

Interested in conducting your own research?

100815 self awareness scrn shtIf you are a BSDI customer, your wellness portal contains a sleep tracking function that allows you to self report your sleep times and/or import sleep data from a wearable device like Fitbit®.  Look for it in the Self-Awareness Section. Click on the “Sleep Patterns” button and then click the “+ Add A Sleep Record” button in the upper right corner.

Make a conscious effort to log your exercise activity (noting if the workout was outdoors), then track your sleep habits and look for emerging patterns.

 Do you find you sleep better the night after a walk in the park?

 What a great reason to get outside!

We are scientists and researchers too – let us know what you discover in the comment section! We would love to see if you find a connection between your time outside and the quality of your sleep!

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