How Can Gardening Improve My Sleep?
Finally, the sun is making a more regular appearance and our gardens are starting to look a lot more colourful. We absolutely love spending time in the garden this time of year, especially now we have a very energetic puppy who loves being outside! Gardening has long been praised for its therapeutic qualities, but a recent article in Gardener’s World revealed that on a deeper level, gardening can actually have a profound effect on your sleep. With the annual Chelsea Flower Show in full swing and a sunny bank holiday weekend just around the corner, we thought we’d share some of the benefits that spending time in the garden can have on your sleep health.
Julie Darbyshire, Senior Critical Care Researcher at the University of Oxford, told Gardener’s World that: “your body needs to be tired to go to sleep, and gardening is a great way to get an all-body workout.” We often see gardening as a leisurely and relaxing pastime, but weeding, planting, trimming and raking all require lots of different muscles to be active. This means we can often put quite a lot of physical exertion on our bodies when gardening. Exercise is frequently cited as helping to improve sleep, so just if hitting the gym isn’t your thing, a busy afternoon of tidying up the garden could be just as effective at helping you to sleep better.
Exposure to daylight helps to set the circadian rhythm. So, when you’re spending time out in the garden, you’re helping your body to learn a regular routine. This means that when it starts getting dark, the body knows that it is time for sleep and vice versa. Dr Kirstie Anderson, a consultant neurologist who runs the Regional Sleep Service in Newcastle often recommends that her patients get lots of daylight and exercise. She sees gardening as a good way of ticking both these boxes at the same time.
But it’s not just what you do in the garden, it’s also what you grow that could help your sleep pattern. There are lots of herbs and flowers that are associated with improving your sleep such as lavender, magnolia bark and chamomile. The available research on the benefits of herbal remedies like these is slightly limited, but if you have these plants in your garden, it might be worth swapping the caffeine for fresh home-grown herbs like mint and chamomile to make tea.
So, this bank holiday weekend grab the secateurs and get outside. You’ll not only benefit from a beautifully pruned garden, but a good night’s sleep too!