A coastal walk helps you sleep longer

Published : 02 Oct 2015 Last update : 20 Nov 2015

A walk by the coast will have you sleeping an extra 47 minutes on average as well as providing you with feelings of calm, happiness and a sense of escapism, according to research carried out as part of our Great British Walk campaign 2015, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor. Over two thirds of people surveyed said they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with one in three saying that the thought alone of the sea helps them sleep at night.

The power of the coast in our lives

To help understand how the coast really impacts upon us, we carried out qualitative and quantitative studies to look at how a walk by the sea affects both our mood and the quality of our sleep.

When it came to feelings of wellbeing, people feel happier and healthier straight after a ramble along the shoreline, the research identified. Nearly two-thirds of people said that a coastal walk allows them a distraction from the stresses of everyday life and over half said a coastal walk makes them feel positive about their lives in general.

Walkers take to the trail for study

Undertaking the qualitative research for our report (Sleep, Mood and Coastal Walking), environmental psychologist Eleanor Ratcliffe explored the effects of walking by the coast on changes in mood and sleep. The study saw participants undertake either a coastal walk or an inland walk.

Positive changes in happiness, calmness, sleep quality, alertness and sleep length were experienced by both sets of walkers after their walk. However, coastal walkers showed a significantly greater increase in sleep length than inland walkers.

Read the report: Sleep, Mood and Coastal Walking by Eleanor Ratcliffe (PDF / 3.1MB) download

What’s special about the coast

'Coastal walkers are getting more sleep, and are more likely to show increased sleep quality and morning alertness,’ said Ratcliffe. ‘In addition, coastal walkers associated their walks with family, childhood memories and the anticipation of holidays.

‘It’s clear that there is something special about the coast, particularly as a place to escape to that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep longer.’

The research also delved into what walkers think about. Both inland and coastal walkers who took part used their walk as an opportunity to reflect, free themselves from everyday pressures and boost feelings of calmness and relaxation. Coastal walkers were also found to focus on memories of people close to them.

Walking expert agrees with research

‘Everyone knows I love a good ramble and what better news than it helps us sleep longer!’ said presenter Julia Bradbury from The Wonder of Britain who is supporting our Great British Walk campaign this year.

‘I’ve walked the coast a lot as part of my TV work and also spent a huge amount of time outdoors on the coast with friends and family and I can tell you first hand, I always sleep like a baby afterwards!’

Try it for yourself

We have more than 1,000 downloadable walks available, with a third of those along the coastline we look after across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For some inspiration and to help aid a better night’s sleep, we’ve chosen 10 top coastal walks for you to try.

This article was first published on 17 September 2015.

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