A new Northwestern Medicine and Rush University Medical Center study based on older adults has shown that having a purpose in life means you are more likely to sleep better at night.
Although the participants in the study were older, researchers said the findings are likely applicable to the broader public.
Poor sleep quality is related to having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep apnea is a common disorder that increases with age in which a person has shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep several times per hour. This disruption often makes a person feel unrefreshed upon waking up and excessively sleepy during the day.
Dr. Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said, “Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia.
“Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”
823 adults, who had an average age of 79, participated in the study and answered a series of questions on purpose of life and sleep.
For the purpose in life survey, they were asked to rate their response to statements such as: ‘I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.’
People who felt their lives had meaning were 63% less likely to experience sleep apnoea, a breathing problem that leads to repeated waking up in the night.
They were also 52% less likely to have restless leg syndrome, a sleep-disrupting irresistible urge to move the legs.
The study was published on Sunday, July 9, in the journal Sleep Science and Practice.