A NEW report has revealed that taking a walk along our stunning coastline could help us sleep better.
As autumn and winter set in it’s easy to simply lock yourself away with a duvet but it’s not good for your health.
According to the National Trust’s latest research a walk by the coast will have you sleeping on average an extra 47 minutes as well as providing you with feelings of calm (83%), happiness (82%) and a sense of escapism (62%), according to a report out today.
The survey found that 70% of people from Northern Ireland state they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with 68% also saying that memories of the coast help relax their mind.
The research was carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great NI Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, to look at how walking on the coast impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our coastline, of which 775 miles, (including over 100 miles (22%) of the Northern Ireland coastline) is cared for by the conservation charity.
To help understand how a walk by the sea affects both our mood and the quality of our sleep, the National Trust has undertaken qualitative and quantitative studies to look at how the sea really impacts upon us.
The research identified that when it came to feelings of wellbeing, 81% of people from Northern Ireland feel happier and healthier after a ramble along the shoreline. A further 84% stated that a coastal walk makes them feel positive about their lives in general.
Speaking of the report Sleep, Mood & Coastal Walking Environmental Psychologist Eleanor Ratcliffe said: “Coastal walkers are getting more sleep, and are more likely to show increased sleep quality and morning alertness.
“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 in.”
The Sleep, Mood and Coastal Walking report also delved into how and what coastal walkers think about when strolling along the shore.
4 Things We Think About When Walking At The Coast:
Walking by the sea triggers memories associated with people close to the walker, such as parents, children or other family members, as well as their own childhood. These memories were often reflective and described different times and stages of life.
Walking by the coast is related to qualitative perceptions of happiness and calmness or relaxation. Emotional reactions to inland walks were almost universally positive, while emotional responses to the coast were sometimes bittersweet or nostalgic.
Coastal and inland walkers both used their walk as an opportunity to think and reflect, with coastal walkers more uniformly receptive to reflective thought processes.
Sense of escape
Despite using the walk as an opportunity to reflect on important matters, walking was also associated with feelings of freedom and escape for many participants. Comments from coastal walkers suggest that the coast still retains the associations and romance of a holiday destination.
National Trust recommends Northern Ireland’s top 10 coastal walks:
1. Castle Ward
This 18th-century mansion rests on a rolling hillside looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in County Down. With 21 miles of trails at Castle Ward there is plenty of space to explore.
2. Mount Stewart
Mount Stewart house recently re-opened after a three year long restoration project bringing the mansion back to the original elegance of when it was home of the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry and her family in the early 20th century. Walkers will be able to enjoy magnificent views across Strangford Lough from Temple of the winds at Mount Stewart.
3. Murlough National Nature Reserve
This is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system which has become an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.
4. Strangford Lough
This is the largest sea lough in the British Isles, covering an area from Angus Rock at its mouth on the Irish Sea, to the vast sand-flats at its northern end 20 miles (33 kilometres) away. Look out for rare sea birds and seals at Strangford Lough which is the largest marine nature reserve in the UK.
5. Ballymacormick and Orlock
At the east end of the sandybeach of Ballyholme Bay is the narrow track through Ballymacormick Point on the North Down Coast. The gorse scrub, shingle beaches, rocky islets and coves offer a wilder area and escape from the crowds.
6. Downhill Demesne
Discover the striking 18th-century mansion of the eccentric Earl Bishop that now lies in ruin, then explore Mussenden Temple, perched on the cliff edge.
You will find magnificent cliiftop walks, affording rugged headland views across the awe-inspiring North Coast.
Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago. Today it is a popular tourist destination, attracting thousands of thrill-seekers (and birdwatchers!) to the North Coast every year. Carrick-a-Rede offers a unique cliff top experience with breath-taking views of the Antrim coast.
Sweeping along the edge of the North Coast, this two-mile stretch of golden sand is one of Northern Ireland’s finest beaches and affords views of Inishowen headland and Mussenden Temple perched atop the cliffs.
9. Giant’s Causeway
Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, for centuries the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists, stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it. The Giant’s Causeway has four stunning trails from the all accessible walk at Runkerry Head to the more challenging Causeway Coast Way.
This beautiful coastal village is steeped in character and folklore. Check out Castle Carra in Cushendun Bay – a prominent tower house of late 13th or 14th-century date, built over a Mesolithic flint working site.
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