How living on greener streets could help you sleep better

People who live on greener streets and can see lakes or rivers from their homes are likely to sleep better and for a longer period

It’s well-known that green spaces not only breathe life into concrete jungles but also enhance well-being. Now, a new study shows that living in a greener area or having views of blue spaces can help you sleep better and for a longer period.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Exeter, found that people who lived on greener streets and could see lakes or rivers from their homes were likely to report better mental health, which in turn was associated with healthier amounts of sleep.

For the study, researchers surveyed over 16,000 people across 14 European countries, as well as Australia, Canada, the USA, and Hong Kong. The participants were asked about the amount of greenery near their homes, whether they could see, lakes, and coasts from home, how much leisure time spent in natural spaces, as well as their mental health and how many hours they slept a night.

The findings, published in Environmental Research, showed that 17% of people who lived reported getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night, compared to 22% of those who did not live on green streets.

Although it is a 5% difference these findings are comparable to the difference in sleep between people who are coping on their present income and those under financial strain, co-author Mathew White said in the statement. “With money worries widely recognised as an important determinant of sleep, we think this demonstrates street greenness should be recognised by governments as an important public health issue.”

Previous studies have also shown that greener neighbourhoods can significantly improve well-being. For instance, an October 2023 study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that green spaces such as parks have a positive impact on an important genetic marker associated with exposure to stress.

Another study, published in the journal Health & Space in December 2023, found that having just 10% more forest space in a person’s residential area can reduce serious psychological distress.

These studies indicate that urban green and blue spaces such as parks, gardens, and lakes are not only pleasing to the eyes but also improve physical and mental health.

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