Aside from tweaking your bedroom interior, investing in a good mattress, and curbing bad habits before bedtime, spending time in your garden can also improve your sleep.
The duration of sleep (7-9 hours), depth of sleep, and continuity (the length of uninterrupted sleep per night) are three important factors when it comes to getting some good quality slumber. But with this in mind, how exactly can gardening help?
‘From the physical workout that gardening provides to simply being out in the sunshine during the day can all serve to improve your sleep, which can provide multiple benefits to daily life,’ explains Shannen Godwin, growing expert at leading bulb company J. Parker’s. ‘It’s not just gardening that can improve your sleep but what you grow. From relaxing lavender to jasmine, your garden can be a sleep-inducing haven.’
1. Spending time in the garden can improve your circadian rhythm
One of the most important ways to improve sleep is to work with your circadian rhythm – this is your sleep/wake cycle or body clock.
Your body uses daylight as a cue for energy and darkness as a cue to prepare for sleep, but so often our body misses these natural cues, as we use bright lights on our devices at night and may spend the daytime inside working, and therefore not getting enough natural daylight.
In fact, a study by Oxford University found that getting outside each day is the best way to regulate your body clock, which, in turn, can help you sleep.
‘Getting out in the garden with a cup of tea in the morning is a great way to get that wake-up daylight hit. Spending time in your garden during the day will expose your body to around 20,000 lux of light, whereas inside light levels can often be less than 3,000 lux – which can confuse your body clock,’ the team at J. Parker’s explain.
2. Gardening can help you fall asleep quicker
Gardening is known to be a full-body workout. Any gardener will tell you how well they sleep after a day in the garden! The hard labour of digging alone makes gardeners crash out with exhaustion at the end of the day, but there are many sleep benefits to even the gentlest of gardening tasks.
Whether digging, planting bulbs, watering plants, or general pottering, the average person will burn between 175 and 300 calories per hour gardening. This kind of exercise can be vital for relieving stress and improving your mood, helping you to feel energised during the day. Additionally, exercise can often improve sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep at night.
3. Grow sleep-inducing plants in your garden
Growing your own plants can bring joy, relieve stress and improve your mood, but there are a few plants that are ideal for helping to improve your sleep.
Lavender can bring colour and bees to your garden, but when the flowering season is over, why not cut and dry the lavender to create lavender pillows for your bedroom? Lavender is known to increase relaxation and calm, perfect for winding down before bed.
Meanwhile, Jasmine is a great plant that not only offers beautiful flowers for your garden but also a wonderfully relaxing scent that is shown to help relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep.
Another plant known to induce sleep is gardenia. Often found in herbal sleep medicines, bringing a few cut flowers into your bedroom will help the flowers emit their powerfully relaxing scent.
4. Gardening = lower stress = healthy sleep
Access to a garden can lead to significantly lower stress levels which can, in turn, promote a more restful night’s sleep with a greater percentage of deep restorative sleep too.
J. Parker’s explain: ‘We know that stress can lead to us tossing and turning at night, but spending time in your garden is a great way to alleviate that stress as you reconnect with nature. So much so that some GPs have partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society to prescribe people with garden and nature prescriptions.’
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