The beach is a summertime staple, but it’s not just a good time – it can also be beneficial for your health. Studies show that the ocean’s azure waters, sounds, and air can positively impact your physical and mental health. Whether you’re looking to detox or just find some peace of mind, a day by the shore might be the perfect solution. In fact, a recent study found that people who sleep near the ocean fall asleep 47 minutes faster than those who don’t. So if you’re looking to live a little healthier, here are nine surprising ways the beach can help you do it.
Beaches are made up of a wide variety of materials, ranging from huge rocks worn down by waves to tiny grains of sand. Most beach materials are eroded by water and wind over long periods of time, but some erosion processes can be much faster than others. These include attrition, which occurs when rocks rub together; abrasion, in which the rough surfaces of rock grind against each other; and chemical weathering, in which the minerals in sand are dissolved by rain or seawater.
As the sand is swept up and down by waves, it can become compacted into dunes or sandbars. This sediment may then be deposited further up the beach by longshore currents or the tides. Alternatively, it may be moved offshore by waves or wind to sandbanks and back again on the beach in the next tidal cycle. Beach erosion is influenced by both the speed of the waves and the size of the waves, as well as the shape of the coastline.
A beach can also be defined by its features, such as shipwrecks, sand color, or even the presence of wild pigs! In addition, some beaches are more sheltered than others from wind and waves, meaning that they’re better for swimming. A sheltered beach is usually characterized by sandy or rocky coastlines with calm waters.
Many beach-goers don’t realize that the beach is constantly changing. In quiet weather, a berm may form on the beach. This ridge of sand was once an offshore bar that slowly, over a period of weeks or months, migrated to the beach. This is a common feature of California and European beaches. Other parts of the world have beaches that are dominated by abrasion, a process in which sand is ground up by waves. Beaches are also altered by currents that bring in new materials and move away others. These currents are driven by the wind and the movement of sand from the mountains to the beach. In some places, these currents can flow hundreds of miles inland and drain into coastal shallows.