Something I’ve been doing over the past couple of days while I’m in San Diego is taking outdoor naps (as you can see, I’m really getting into the relaxed culture here).
I’ve been taking these little slumbers on my back deck chair in the shade of a grapefruit tree, with a gentle breeze blowing, and it feels like I’m getting a deep, deep rest. I’ve been waking up from these outdoor naps feeling so rested and so peaceful, I couldn’t help but think outdoor naps must be resetting my system in a major way, especially during a stressful transition…so I decided to do a bit of research.
Of course, when I searched “outdoor naps” all the articles are about babies. Haha! But hey, babies are just tiny versions of us, right!? If it’s good for babies to nap outside, it’s good for us grown-up babies to nap outside too. That’s just logic.
Here’s a good one – The Case For Napping Outdoors
“Parents in the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland) view this traditional custom of letting their babies nap outdoors as a key to good health.”
In that article, Scandinavian parents report that letting babies nap outside is a common parenting practice, and their babies sleep longer and deeper when their naps are outside. (Please note that I am not, in any way, trying to give parenting advice). ;)
I had to change my Google search to “sleeping outside” rather than “outdoor naps” so I could get away from all the baby articles.
Most of the articles are about how sleeping at night outside can reset our circadian rhythms to be in line with nature, and reset our body’s melatonin production. Not necessarily about napping outside, but still. Sleeping in nature is healthy either way. I can just feel it.
I loved this, from this Time article, How Camping Helps You Sleep Better:
“Spending time in nature can work wonders for human health, from lowering blood pressure and stress hormones to sparking feelings of awe.”
And I LOVED this from SleepJunkies.com (great domain name!): 7 Amazing Things That Happen To You When You Sleep Outdoors:
“A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior showed that simply seeing trees is proven to relieve stress. Even just looking at a picture of a tree is proven to lower blood pressure and cortisol. Looking at actual real life trees has the same effect, but on a much bigger scale.
If you can get out into a wooded area when you sleep outside, not only will you be getting all of the physical benefits from being outdoors, but your mental health will be getting a boost too.
It’s not just trees that reduce your stress levels though, the calming sounds of the outdoors is shown to help to reduce stress levels and calm your mood.”
According to a study referenced in this article from Stanford, being outside in nature in general is important for mental health, and can lower depression and anxiety.
“Through a controlled experiment, we investigated whether nature experience would influence rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self), a known risk factor for mental illness. Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.”
More fun reading:
Here’s where I’ve been taking my little outdoor naps..I’ve just been curling up on that chair.
Also fun to check out…
Inspiration for outdoor napping from Apartment Therapy
Outdoor patio daybeds on Pinterest
I think outdoor naps will become a major part of mastering my physiology, which is my new hobby.
Now…who wants to go camping!?!