People Who Garden May Have Better Sleep Quality, Study Finds

Physical activity outside in your garden during the day can make for less sleep disruption at night.

<p>Hispanolistic/Getty Images</p>

Hispanolistic/Getty Images

Those who garden know it is not only a way to enjoy fresh flowers and produce at home, but it’s a fun and relaxing hobby that can help you slow down and be more in the moment.

To make the list of benefits even longer, findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders show that people who spend time gardening outdoors may have better quality sleep.

“We know that sufficient sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle along with nutrition and exercise,” says Dr. Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg, M.D., sleep specialist and American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) spokesperson. “Insufficient sleep contributes to the risk of other chronic medical problems.”

When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience an increase in depression, anxiety, memory problems, and our bodies are more susceptible to getting sick. Getting enough sleep every night is important to allow your brain and body to recharge and help regulate your metabolism and immune system. Good sleep hygiene can also help decrease chronic pain and the risk of cancer.

The Study Findings

The nationwide study included almost 60,000 participants from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), showing those who gardened regularly had “lower odds of multiple sleep complaints” such as short sleep duration, sleep apnea, insomnia, and even that afternoon slump that can make you tired and sluggish during the day.

“As a sleep doctor and avid gardener, I find joy in the idea that gardening benefits sleep,” she says. “Yet, while it compares positively to no exercise, the data I have access to lacks sufficient detail to gauge its efficacy against other forms of physical activity. This actually raises more questions, whether the results are due to being outside in nature versus connecting with the soil and plants or the physical activity of gardening.”

Either way one thing is clear—getting outside and tending to your plants is always a good idea.

What Is the Potential Link Between Gardening and Sleep Health?

“We understand that light exposure and engaging in physical activity during the day promotes healthy sleep,” says Abbasi-Feinberg. “Therefore, one can see that gardening could be beneficial for sleep. Some studies noted a significant relationship between green spaces and sleep duration. Other studies have shown mental health benefits of gardening and improvement of dementia symptoms.”

But what about being outdoors when you’re not gardening? “This study seems to indicate being physically active and being outside in nature may help overall sleep health,” says Abbasi-Feinberg. Even if you aren’t a regular gardener just yet, you can still enjoy the benefit of being outdoors in nature and possibly get better sleep from it. There are many health benefits of spending time in nature, which can help us reduce stress, unwind, boost concentration, and be more present. Plus, being outdoors encourages you to be more physically active, simply by walking and exploring your surroundings.

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