‘I’ll get you a good one’: Outdoor tech helps me sleep at night
In a country where it is still illegal to walk through a park, it is not easy to imagine anyone living in a forest.
Yet technology is making it easier for people to take a break in a quiet park, even though the conditions are not ideal.
In one recent experiment, volunteers were asked to walk for 20 minutes at an outdoor recreation centre in central China.
The average length of time spent outdoors in the country was 20 minutes.
But when the volunteers returned to their homes, they were given the option to walk at a leisurely pace.
The participants’ sleep was better when they were walking at a moderate pace.
This was the first experiment to look at how outdoor technology can improve the quality of sleep, say the researchers, who have published their results in the journal Science.
Dr Zhang and his colleagues asked the volunteers to walk with a friend for 10 minutes in a park.
After they had finished, they would be asked to take their shoes off and lie down on the grass, with their feet on a bench.
The volunteers would be encouraged to lie on their back for at least an hour before they could relax and lie back down again.
The scientists found that the volunteers who had walked in a natural setting had significantly more quality sleep than those who had not.
The researchers also found that after the volunteers had completed their 20 minutes of walking, they showed less fatigue than those with a traditional outdoor walk.
But the volunteers’ sleep quality did not improve over the next three days, indicating that the quality improvement was more due to the sleep quality of the group who had been allowed to take the walk.
“The fact that outdoor technology has such an impact on people’s quality of sleeping is a very exciting development,” Dr Zhang says.
The technology used in the experiment is called a “sensory-feedback system”.
It consists of sensors, microphones and sensors that measure changes in the environment, such as sound and temperature, to help the volunteers understand the environment.
It is the same technology that is being used in parks and nature centres around the world to monitor people’s health.
The idea is to monitor what is happening in the physical environment around the person who is doing the activity and help them get the necessary rest.
The most successful outdoor technology is a sensor that monitors the environment in real time.
The sensors are designed to be portable, can be worn on the person’s body, and can detect the position of the person in the world.
The device can also track the activity of the individual in the park and help with planning, or to identify where they are in relation to other people.
“This technology is becoming more and more common,” says Dr Zhang.
“If we can take advantage of it, we can help improve quality of life for all of society.”
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Australian Research Council.
A version of this article appears in the December 2017 issue of Science.