Posted on Jun 17, 2016, 6 a.m.
Access to green spaces – a mountain slope, sandy beach, or neighborhood park – raises sleep quality, among men of all ages and older women.
Previous studies report that exposure to the natural environment may improve health behaviors (by encouraging physical activity), as well as improve mental health (including to reduce levels of depression). Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, from the University of Illinois (Illinois, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected by the US CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which surveyed 255,171 adult men and women. The team also used a USDA index that scores the country's geographical areas for their natural amenities, using hours of sunlight, which is important in regulating a person's circadian rhythm, and temperature. In response to the survey question about sleep quality in the last month, the researchers found that the most common answer was that respondents had slept poorly for less than one week. Across the entire sample, individuals reporting 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep consistently had lower odds of access to green space and the natural environment, as compared to those reporting less than one week. The relationship between sleep and exposure to green space was much stronger for men than for women; as well as for men and women ages 65-plus. Observing that: “access to the natural environment attenuated the likelihood of reporting insufficient sleep,” the study authors submit that: “Additional studies are needed to examine the impact of natural environment exposure on sleep insufficiency across various socio-demographic groups.”
Grigsby-Toussaint DS, Turi KN, Krupa M, Williams NJ, Pandi-Perumal SR, Jean-Louis G. “Sleep insufficiency and the natural environment: Results from the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.” Prev Med. 2015 Sep;78:78-84.