Being near nature improves sleep
Nature does a body good. At least that’s the finding from a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. According to researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana and scientists from the New York University School of Medicine in Manhattan, people over the age of 65 and men of all ages sleep better when they live or spend time near natural spaces, according to a press release from the University of Illinois.
Researchers reviewed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to determine whether there was a link between access to nature and better rest.
People who reported 21 to 29 days of poor sleep were found to have far less access to natural spaces than people who reported seven days or fewer.
Being near nature, whether visiting a park or looking at the ocean, often leads to more physical activity, which, in turn, leads to better sleep, researchers note.
“Specifically, our results provide an incentive for nursing homes and communities with many retired residents to design buildings with more lighting, create nature trails and dedicated garden spaces, and provide safe outdoor areas that encourage outdoor activity for men and women,” says Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois.
Sleep position may make a difference to brain health
Researchers from three New York universities have discovered that people who sleep on their side, rather than on their back or stomach, may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other cognitive diseases, according to a new study, “The Effect of Body Posture on Brain Glymphatic Transport.”
The reason? Side sleeping is the most efficient way to open the glymphatic pathway in the brain, which clears away waste and other chemicals such as amyloid beta and tau proteins, note the researchers. Buildup of these proteins is an indication of Alzheimer’s.
“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in humans and most animals—even in the wild—and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake,” says study co-author Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical School in Rochester, New York.
Sleep well for better decision making
Lack of sleep can make you groggy, irritable and cause a whole host of health issues. Now you can add a lack of impulse control to the list of negative side effects of poor sleep.
In the study, “Interactions between Sleep Habits and Self-Control,” psychologists at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, found a sleep-deprived person is at increased risk of succumbing to impulsive desires, inattentiveness and questionable decision making, according to an article on the MedicalXpress website.
“Exercising self-control allows one to make better choices when presented with conflicting desires and opportunities,” says June Pilcher, Clemson Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, one of four authors of the study. “That has far-reaching implications to a person’s career and personal life.”
Getting enough sleep contributes to the most stable energy reserves and improves a person’s ability to make difficult choices, the article notes.