Science Says People Who Live Near Nature Might Sleep Better At Night

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Bad news, big-city dwellers: A recent study published in Preventive Medicine links quality sleep to Mother Nature.

The study, sampling 245,000 Americans nationwide, reported those who live near greenery and bodies of water experienced fewer nights of poor sleep than those living further from nature.

In a statement to Huffington Post, study leader and health professor Diana Grigsby-Toussaint of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said,

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.

Men and participants over 65 exhibited the biggest benefits from nature, though Grigsby-Toussaint and fellow researchers could not pinpoint the reasons.

The study did not delve into whether or not the increased opportunity to exercise or exposure to clean oxygen and vitamin D -- two advantages that can help fight depression -- were the causes behind better sleep.

Researchers did, however, study data from counties on lakes, shores and mountains and, based on the data, assign each a score on a seven-degree scale.

The team surveyed the participants from these counties to determine whether or not they could remember any nights of poor sleep within the previous month. The study controlled for outside factors including health, habits like drinking or smoking and the participants' levels of education and employment.

Participants who claimed to have the highest amounts of poor sleep, or the people with 21 to 29 nights of poor sleep out of the preceding 30, were least likely to have access to nature.

The relationship between exposure to nature and restful sleep was much weaker in female participants.

Of the reason the relationship is weaker for women, Grigsby-Toussaint suggested,

We speculate that women might have more safety concerns compared to men when engaging in outdoor activities, but more research is needed to explore this hypothesis further.

Just when I thought Netflix was the answer to getting sleep, I find out the answer is something much cheaper.

Citations: Trouble Sleeping? Get Yourself Some Nature (Huffington Post)