A nationally representative study published in Preventive Medicine has found access to nature may improve sleep quality for seniors age 65 and older and for men of all ages.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 10% of adults have chronic insomnia, and 15% to 20% of adults experience a short-term bout of insomnia that lasts no more than three months. Between 30% and 35% of adults occasionally have brief symptoms of insomnia.
Can Access to Nature Help You Sleep?
Researchers from the University of Illinois and New York University School of Medicine pulled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national survey of 255,171 adults. The team also used a U.S. Department of Agriculture index to analyze natural conditions, including hours of sunlight—which can help with a person’s natural circadian rhythm—and other natural amenities.age 65 and older.
Nature May Help General Well-Being
Researchers did not directly test how or why access to green space correlated with less insomnia. They speculate that more access to nature might increase exercise. Exercise can be a strong predictor of healthy sleep. Because the correlation between sleep quality and access to nature was stronger for men than for women, the team hypothesized that women might not use natural amenities as frequently—perhaps due to safety concerns.
The researchers say their work highlights the general importance of nature to well-being. It may also provide important information for nursing homes and other senior care facilities. Access to nature with gardens, safe outdoor living areas, and other natural embellishments could be worthwhile goals for improving senior sleep quality and, as a result, health and wellness.
- Grigsby-Toussaint, D. S., Turi, K. N., Krupa, M., Williams, N. J., Pandi-Perumal, S. R., & Jean-Louis, G. (2015). Sleep insufficiency and the natural environment: Results from the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Preventive Medicine, 78, 78-84. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.07.011
- Heffron, T. M. (2014, March 10). Insomnia Awareness Day facts and stats. Retrieved from http://www.sleepeducation.com/news/2014/03/10/insomnia-awareness-day-facts-and-stats
- U of I study: Men, people over 65 sleep better when they have access to nature. (2015, August 24). Retrieved from http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/u-i-study-men-people-over-65-sleep-better-when-they-have-access-nature
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