Living On Greener Streets Improves Sleep Quality

EXETER, United Kingdom — Living closer to the vibrant colors of nature is conducive to a better, longer night’s rest. Scientists from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health report that living on a greener street or having views of water (blue spaces) from your home can help improve sleep patterns.

This research project spanned 18 different countries and ultimately uncovered that living on greener streets (visible grass, trees, and vegetation) shows an association with better sleep. While prior studies have already connected green spaces to improved sleep, this is the first study ever to include an analysis of several different types of natural environments across numerous nations.

Lack of sleep, usually defined as less than six hours per night, is a significant public health issue in industrialized countries. Poor sleep has been linked with a range of adverse health outcomes. Examples include non-communicable diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions, as well as an increased mortality risk.

💡What To Know About Sleep:

  • Studies show the ideal amount of sleep for adults is between 7 to 9 hours.
  • Health guidelines recommend between 8 and 10 hours of sleep for children.
  • A recent poll finds only 1 in 3 adults reach this goal each night.

“People that lived in greener streets reported better mental health, which was the driving factor behind getting a better night’s sleep. Streetscape greening initiatives already exist in urban cities to tackle environmental risks like flooding and heat island effects, but our findings suggest policymakers should extend that to residential areas to support public health by promoting healthier sleep habits,” says lead study author Dr. Leanne Martin, from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health, in a media release.

woman lying on grass during daytime
Living closer to the vibrant colors of nature is conducive to a better, longer night’s rest. (Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash)

Researchers used data encompassing over 16,000 people from 14 European countries in addition to Australia, Canada, the United States, and China. That data originated from the BlueHealth International Survey (BIS) – a cross-sectional survey co-ordinated by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health in Penryn. Respondents answered questions regarding the amount of greenery on their street, whether they had views of rivers, lakes, and coasts (blue spaces) from home, how much leisure time they spent in natural spaces, their mental health, and how many hours they usually slept nightly.

This led to the finding that individuals living on greener streets or homes with views of blue spaces usually reported stronger mental health, which in turn showed an association with healthier amounts of sleep. It’s worth noting people who reported spending more recreational time in green and blue spaces also seemed to enjoy better mental health and healthier sleep durations.

All in all, the results show that 17 percent of individuals who lived on green streets reported getting fewer than six hours sleep a night, while 22 percent of those not living in green areas reported the same.

“Whilst a five percent difference may seem small, these findings are comparable to the difference in sleep between people who are coping on their present income and those under financial strain. With money worries widely recognized as an important determinant of sleep, we think this demonstrates street greenness should be recognized by governments as an important public health issue,” concludes study co-author Dr. Mathew White from the University of Vienna.

The study is published in the journal ScienceDirect.

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John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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