According to the results of a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois in the United States, men and people over 65 who live in an environment where nature is more present, sleep better.

Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, professor of kinesiology and community health and member of the division of nutritional science at the University of Illinois in Chicago explained that “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.”

Professor Grigsby-Toussaint worked with two researchers from the university and with several scientists from the New York University School of Medicine to reach these conclusions. The team used data from the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System, a monitoring tool put into place by the CDC – the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 255,171 representative American adults were questioned to find out if there was a link between declared days of insufficient sleep and access to green spaces.

The research team also used a USDA index to measure the hours of sunlight in various geographical areas, an important parameter in regulating a person’s circadian rhythm, and temperature.

In response to questioning on quality of sleep in the last month, researchers found that the most common answer was that participants had slept poorly for less than a week.

Men are more sensitive than women

“Interestingly, though, across the entire sample, individuals reporting 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep consistently had lower odds of access to green space and natural amenities compared to those reporting less than one week,” noted professor Grigsby-Toussaint.

For men, the relationship between sleep and exposure to a green environment was much stronger than for women. However, both males and females 65 and over found nature to be a “potent sleep aid,” she pointed out.

Grigsby-Toussaint also underlined that there is an association of individuals living in proximity to green spaces and increased levels of physical activity, believed to help foster healthy sleeping.

The study’s findings could eventually be used to help treat people who have sleeping difficulties. For example, inciting patients to spend more time in nature and creating nursing homes with more space, sunlight and gardens that encourage outdoor activities.

Men Aged 65 And Above With Access To Nature Sleep Better
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