Coastal Walks: Make You Sleep Longer and Feel Happier

I currently have trouble sleeping, not entirely sure why but I am one of those who’s brains seem to go on overdrive before bed and I keep thinking about things….and thinking…and thinking…and next thing you know it is extremely late…..or early. If I lived closer to the coast, I would happily try walking along the coast daily!

Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Research  carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, was conducted to look at how walking on the coast really impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our UK coastline, of which 775 miles is cared for by the conservation charity. The research seems to suggest that:

  • UK coast walkers sleep an average of 47 minutes longer after a walk by the sea
  • Coastal walking boosts feelings of calm and happiness and provides walkers with a sense of escape
  • Coastal walks offer a distraction from the stresses of everyday life (63 per cent) and make people feel positive about their lives in general (55 per cent)

Sleep, Mood and Coastal Walking report, from Environmental Psychologist Eleanor Ratcliffe which explored the effects of walking by the coast on change in mood and sleep, delved into how and what coastal walkers think about when strolling the shores with four key areas dominating the minds of those studied:

1.    Memories – 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

Morte Point, Woolacombe, North Devon
Morte Point, Woolacombe, North Devon

2.    Mood – 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

3.    Reflection – 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

4.    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

For some inspiration and to help aid a better night’s sleep, the National Trust has recommended a list of ten top coastal walks across the country:

Top 10 Coastal Walks:

1.    Breath-taking views of the Jurassic coast on the Purbeck Countryside, Old Harry Rocks walk

2.    Stunning views across the bay towards Baggy Point and Morte Point on the Potters Hill and Woolacombe Down walk

3.    Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters offers one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast

4.    Take in the sights at Newtown Nature Reserve estuary walk

5.    Look out for rare sea birds and seals at Blakeney National Nature Reserve

6.    Explore the heathland peninsula with amazing views over the Pembrokeshire coast at Marloes Peninsula

7.    For a bracing and beautiful coastal walk, Northumberland is without comparison

8.    Discover Formby’s hidden secrets, past and present

9.    The Old Saltburn to Warsett Hill walk kicks off in the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea and has many interesting features

10.  Runkerry trail near Giant’s Causeway is a stunning clifftop walk which has significant numbers of breeding skylark, stonechat, linnet and occasional chough

The National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign has more than 1,000 downloadable walks available, with a third along the coastline it looks after across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. So whether it’s a bracing walk along the headland, a ramble through the sand dunes or a gentle wander on one of the UK’s beautiful beaches there are plenty of walking routes to choose from.

For more information on Great British Walk, head to the website:

Potters Hill and Woolacombe Bay
Potters Hill and Woolacombe Bay

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  • Walking by the sea is something I love since I am a child Foz. It’s peaceful and it gives you what you need in terms of energy and serenity. A day at the sea and you are sure to sleep like a baby at night.
    When I was in Ireland I had the sea at 10minutes walk from home. It was my best place to live. I do miss it some days.
    Take care and thanks for this interesting post.
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