How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally: The Power of Time in Nature

How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally: The Power of Time in NatureI love to be outside, especially during sunny days in the Pacific Northwest. I do all I can to get outside when possible, but sometimes it’s hard. I bring my computer outside on nice days and try to get out hiking or camping on occasional weekends, but it never feels like enough. Being out in nature is good for mind, body, and soul. And it just might help you sleep better, too.

Access to natural surroundings is associated with better sleep

Researchers from the University of Illinois published a study in the journal Preventative Medicine in September 2015 that looked at the link between access to nature and sleep. They looked at data from over 250,000 people to see if people who had more access to nature and green spaces slept better.[1]

People who reported 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep per month were less likely to have access to green spaces and nature compared to those who reported less than a week total of insufficient sleep. The link between nature and better sleep was strongest for men, and people over the age of 65 also found green space access to be especially protective against bad sleep.

The authors of the study speculate that access to nature and sleep quality may be linked in numerous ways. Getting out in nature is associated with higher levels of physical activity and better mental health, for example, both factors that can help you sleep better.[1]

The researchers also hypothesize that men may use outdoor spaces more (that they may exercise more outdoors than women, for example, due to safety concerns) which may partly explain why the association was stronger for men.[1]

Tips for getting into nature more

If you live in a place with close proximity to natural areas like mountains, rivers, forests, or oceans, take advantage of your situation. Try to take even a small chunk of time out of each day to be outside in a natural environment. Go to nearby trails after work and take a walk, bring a picnic dinner to the waterfront, or make family hikes a regular part of your routine.

If you live in the city, try to access local parks and green spaces. Most cities have a selection of parks, but it might take some exploring to find ones you like. On weekends, make an effort to get out of the city for hikes or other types of recreation. Even heading out to a beautiful, natural spot to read a book can be beneficial. You’ll likely find that by getting out into nature more you’ll be more active, less stressed, and maybe even a little better rested.

Read more about the link between health and the outdoors in How to Destress: Take Your Exercise Outside.

For more ways to improve sleep, check out the following blogs:

Share your experience

Do you get outside regularly? What type of natural environments or green spaces do you have access to? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

[1] Prev Med. 2015 Sep;78:78-84.

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UHN Staff

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