Scientists in the United States have been looking at the causes of sleep disorders for decades. But getting a good night’s sleep is easy, they say; and here’s all you need to stave off a lack slumber.
Having a sense of purpose in life is the missing link for many who suffer from a lack of sleep, according to experts. The secret to a good night’s sleep is simply having a good reason to get up in the morning, according to US researchers who surveyed people on their sleeping habits and sense of purpose. People who felt like their lives had meaning and value suffered substantially less from sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that makes breathing shallow) and insomnia.
A more positive mindset may be the single thing a person needs to kick the insomnia drugs and get that well-needed night of sleep. “Purpose in life,” according to the Sleep Science and Practice Journal, is generally conceptualized as one’s sense of meaning and directedness in his/her life, essentially having aspirations and goals for the future and feeling that experiences in life are meaningful.
The research looked at older adults because they tend to sleep less than younger adults, and the outcome was not all that surprising. The researchers are also adamant that these findings span all age groups. Jason Ong, a neurologist who led the research at Northwestern University in Chicago, said that encouraging people to develop a sense of purpose could help them to keep insomnia at bay without the need for sleeping pills.
The study, which was published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice, took 823 study participants (who had an average age of 79) and had them answer a series of questions about the purpose of their lives and their personal sleep patterns. Some questions were as simple 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 percent less likely to experience sleep apnea, a breathing problem that leads to repeated night waking. They were also 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome and their overall general sleep quality was also shown to be much higher.
While it seems cliche, leading a meaningful life (or even believing you are leading a life full of purpose) can help you get a better night’s sleep. Insomnia and some other sleep disorders become more common in old age, but Ong said that the findings were likely to apply to the public more broadly. Many young adults experience sleep issues, but simply having a purpose could help. Younger adults also have the added issue of social media, the use of which has been tied to severe sleep issues and depression. In fact, the more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to experience sleep problems and to have the symptoms of depression, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and supported by the National Institutes of Health.
“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,” Ong said. And that, in turn, will also improve one’s overall health.
Sleep disturbances have been associated with higher rates of mental and physical health problems, cognitive impairment and even mortality (Ancoli-Israel 2009; Kim et al. 2015; Foley et al. 2004). Specific physical health and mental health problems that have been associated with sleep disturbances/disorders, especially in older adults, include depression, heart disease, and impaired physical functioning (Ancoli-Israel 2009; Kim et al. 2015; Foley et al. 2004).
The Centers for Disease Control have even labeled sleep disorders as a public health problem. But now, research is showing that all one needs to do is to find a purpose in life and have a more positive outlook. That simple change could help one grab some much-needed needed sleep.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.