The Sleep and Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening offers numerous health benefits, including improved sleep and overall well-being. Spending time in the sunlight while gardening can increase vitamin D levels and decrease blood pressure. It provides physical exercise, even for seniors, through non-strenuous movements. Gardening is linked to lower stress, reduced prevalence of dementia, and better mental health due to providing social interactions and a sense of accomplishment. The physical activity and sun exposure that results from gardening can contribute to better sleep quality. To start gardening, beginners should buy essential tools and plants, accept imperfections, be patient with the learning process, and seek advice from local gardening clubs or experts.

While gardening is certainly a good way to beautify your yard, grow delicious food, and develop a deeper connection to the outdoors, it also serves as an activity that can carry some serious health benefits, including improving your sleep.

Levi Haag, wellness coordinator at Mountainside Addiction Treatment Center and gardening enthusiast, says gardening is a wonderful reminder of our own cultivation of self-care, growing, and healing.

This article will explore all the sleep and health benefits of gardening and include tips for incorporating gardening into your life.

Benefits of gardening for sleep and health

So, what are the benefits of gardening? They range from physical to mental.

While gardening provides a number of health benefits for everyone, says Haag, even just getting out into the sunlight can increase vitamin D levels and decrease blood pressure, which has been proven through scientific study.

Also, growing all those fruits and vegetables at home increases the likelihood you’ll enjoy some nutritious eats, notes Haag. This is something that can help us develop an improved diet and plan meals ahead of time.

There are also benefits of gardening for seniors. Haag says both outdoor and indoor gardens provide plenty of opportunities for using our hands and increasing dexterity through gentle and non-strenuous movements.

“The physicality of raking, digging, lifting, watering, or simply walking around a garden can quickly add up to a great workout for most adults, particularly for folks who may be unable or intimidated by traditional workout routines or gyms,” Haag says.

Beyond the physical advantages, gardening brings a number of mental health benefits. First of all, research has shown that gardening has been associated with a lower prevalence of dementia and lower stress.

Plus, for people who visit communal gardens, the social interactions with a common ground can provide the starting point for conversations and easy topics for people suffering from anxiety or limited social time, adds Haag.

“Visiting garden centers and gathering supplies can also provide a low-stakes opportunity to venture into new spaces and make new connections,” he says.

As for sleep, outdoor gardening is a perfect way to tire ourselves out physically.

“One of the biggest contributors to getting a good night’s sleep is being physically tired, and the low-impact exercise of gardening combined with the ‘one more thing’ nature of gardening helps us work until our bodies are tired,” says Haag. “Combined with a better sleep routine at night, spending time gardening can deliver a one-two punch to help us get better sleep.”

Additionally, Haag explains that there is blue light at play in gardening. While the blue light from cell phones and other devices can disrupt our circadian rhythms at night, that’s only half the story.

“The same blue light [from the sun] that tells our bodies to wake up and be energized is part of the spectrum of light that plants use to grow, and the same light that tells plants to close up for the night tells our bodies it’s time to get ready for sleep,” says Haag.

How to become a gardener

Haag shares his top tips for beginning gardeners if you’d like to harness those positive health benefits:

  • Buy what you want to use and buy more than you think you want. Haag says this approach can account for the “trial run” nature of gardening that many beginners encounter. Buying more than you think you want will cover all your bases for your gardening essentials.
  • Accept imperfection. “Starting out we all make mistakes, and figuring out how much sunlight plants like, how much water is enough, or even which soil to use can be a lot of trial and error,” Haag says.
  • Know that learning will take time. “Don’t get discouraged, and don’t try to take shortcuts,” says Haag. “It’s a learning process, and despite what you might believe, a green thumb is earned over time, not purchased in a garden center. It’s okay to have a plant die while you figure out how to care for it. Just like life, we’re all learning.”

It can also help to join a local gardening club, do some research on favorite plants online, discover which plants will thrive in your particular region (this is what the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map is for), and ask questions whenever you visit a greenhouse or garden center.


What are three benefits of gardening?

When it comes to the benefits of a garden, you can expect to experience lowered stress, boosted vitamin D levels, and better sleep after spending time working and setting your circadian rhythm after exposing your body to sunlight.

Why is gardening so therapeutic?

Digging in the dirt can create a direct connection to nature, and spending time in the beauty of the great outdoors can improve mood as well. Repetitive actions can also have a soothing effect, and when you garden alongside others, you can reap the mental health benefits of socialization.

Should you take a snooze outside? Learn all about the benefits of sleeping outdoors.

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