Do you feel that you sleep better after a day spent gardening? You probably do and there’s evidence to prove it!
According to a study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, physical activities such as gardening are associated with better sleep habits, compared to no activity. Although previous research has shown that lack of exercise is associated with poor sleep, the results of this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are more likely to have better sleep habits. But these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as gardening.
Providing physical exercise is not the only way that gardening can help you sleep at night: that sense of purpose is important, as gardening is a meaningful activity which gives us something to be responsible for, and a future on which to focus. You don’t spend time planting potatoes and pruning roses not to wish to eat and smell them.
The calming sound of the outdoors also helps to reduce stress which can be a common reason for sleepless nights – just think how nice it is to hear birdsong. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are thought to reduce after half an hour in the garden or on the allotment.
Getting out into the garden allows you to breathe fresh air and the better the air quality, the better your brain works, calming your mind and as a result, helping to improve your sleep.
A report on sleep, published by the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, found that just over one third of respondents were classified as ‘good sleepers’, while more than a third were classified as having possible chronic insomnia. The answer is to get outside into the garden! Just thirty minutes of gardening activity will give you physical exercise, fresh air, a dose of vitamin D, and will relieve stress and lift your mood – all of which will lead to a better night’s sleep.
Never has it been more important than in these troubling times to get outside for fresh air and exercise. So if you’re struggling to sleep at night, go outside during the day, dig over a flower bed, prune back a shrub, do some weeding, set some seeds, and reap the rewards of a good night’s sleep.