Is Sleeping Out In Nature Really Good For You?

For those of us who are lucky enough to sleep out in the woodland environment regularly you’ll know that it improves your sleep, but what are the benefits to this?

Well, the improvement in people’s sleep, when sleeping out in a natural environment, is so profound that many studies have been undertaken to find out why and whether there really are benefits or is it just something we say to get people out there? 

Natural Sounds

The thing that most people notice when first coming to the woods is the sound. It’s all natural. In our fast paced modern world we’ve all become used to the constant noises, usually artificial sounds. The constant sound of the traffic, phones, alarms, roadworks….the list goes on. But these artificial noises aren’t good for us, not constantly. They can be overstimulating and exhausting, ironically making it harder for people to switch off and unwind into a deep and restorative sleep.

But out in the woodland there is just a gentle noise, natural sounds of nature. The weather can bring gentle soothing sounds as the wind passes through the trees with the gentle rustle of the leaves and surrounding plants. And the sound of the rain as it falls onto the leaf cover overhead, or lands on your tarp as you are warm in your sleeping bag and relaxed in your hammock. 

During the darkest hours of the night there is complete peace, often silence, something that can be hard to truly find in our modern lives – something that so many people seek. And then as the sun starts to break through the trees the dawn chorus starts, with different birds joining in at different points of the sunrise. And let’s face it, it’s far nicer to be woken by the birds than a high pitched buzzing alarm next to your head!

Natural Light

Similar to noise, we are exposed to artificial light a lot of the time throughout our normal week. Artificial light can obviously have its benefits – but without realising, because we are exposed to it everyday, it impacts our body clocks, throwing off our circadian rhythms. This all builds up to changes in our quality of sleep and can lead to sleep disturbances and insomnia.

The natural cycle of sunlight and nighttime helps us to re-set, to fully relax and switch off. Having a natural cycle of day and night helps your body to know when to release melatonin, a vital hormone that helps us get decent sleep. If exposed to prolonged periods of artificial light, this hormone release can be disrupted, so getting deeper sleep can be harder to achieve. At home it is trickier to get into the habit of reducing lighting, coming away from screens and turning off our artificial environment around us to prepare for sleep. But out in the woods, with the sound of nature and the soothing flickering light of the campfire after the sun has gone down, it becomes far more conducive for sleep. 

In the morning as dawn breaks and the sun starts to rise our bodies start to come out of the deep restorative sleep we all need to stay well. But it’s far nicer to be eased into the day with the sun breaking through the trees and the birds singing than our loud alarms and flicking on a bright light…that’s a horrible shock to the system and can jolt you awake into a state of stress rather than easing you into your day in a relaxed and refreshed way. 

Fresh Air Helps Our Brain Health and Function

The better the air quality, the better it is for our brain. Better air quality not only improves how our brains function and but it also helps our quality of sleep, which in turn boosts our energy levels and ability to focus. 

With better air quality, being out in the woodland amongst nature away for traffic and other pollutants, also comes feelings of being calmer and reduced stress levels as our brain isn’t under the pressure of dealing with poor air quality which can trigger a stress response in our body. And we can’t argue the fact that our brain is a vital piece of kit, definitely worth taking care of!

Good For Your Immune System

Time sleeping outdoors immersed in nature can give your immune system a boost. Research has shown that white blood cells – the cells that are the work horses of your immune system – increase when regularly sleeping outside in nature. Some early research is also showing that blood pressure and pulse rate reduce when sleeping out too. Having a healthy blood pressure and pulse rate reduces the stress that your body is under which in turn is beneficial to your immune system.

Improves Our Mental Well-being

None of us are immune to stress, or stressful events that life can throw our way. So sleeping out in nature is a great way to take care of your mental health – a good part of your mental health tool kit through stressful times. 

Good quality sleep is one of the main pillars of good health, but is often hard to achieve when under deep stress or during times of mental health battles. This doesn’t necessarily mean longer periods of sleep, but deeper better quality, restorative sleep. And sleeping out in nature is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you are warm and comfy, relax with the natural light of the campfire and drift off with the sounds of nature. This is something that can benefit us all.

But why is sleep important anyway? 

Without good quality sleep our whole health is impacted. Sleep deprivation causes a stress response in our body, which over time can weaken the immune system, this leaves us at a higher risk of certain illnesses.

Sleep deprivation also leaves us in a state where we are less able to cope with stress in our everyday lives and can leave us feeling overwhelmed…as well as down right exhausted!

Not getting good quality sleep also leaves us at higher risk of mental health illnesses….which in a cruel twist of fate can also cause more sleep problems!

So heading out and sleeping in the woodland is great way to re-set. A great way to regulate your sleeping patterns once more, and a great way to make deep, restorative sleep something that is within your grasp. 

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