This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on February 22, 2018
The Roman philosopher Seneca once wrote: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” Apart from the many societal benefits from living a good life, scientists have learned that there is a direct correlation between living purposefully and the quality of sleep a person gets each night. By establishing a clear connection between sleep and wellness, researchers have a chance to further explore how improving one can benefit the other.
In a recently published study out of Northwestern University in Chicago, researchers asked 825 people – aged 60 to 100 – to complete two separate questionnaires. One screened for sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, while the other assessed each volunteer’s perception of their life as meaningful. Researchers found that those who started out with a perceived purposeful life were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome. These same subjects started out with moderately better sleep quality that actually showed improvement over the course of the study.
While it might seem unsurprising that someone who has attained a level of contentment with his or her life might sleep better, it is powerful to have actual numbers to verify such a relationship. Scientists contend that these results lay a foundation for further research on the link between positive psychology and sleep health, research that can take a deeper look at the efficacy of mindfulness-based therapies as a way target purpose of life, especially in older adults. In essence, these results show that living a good life allows for good sleep. Another of Seneca’s quotes come to mind: “Not how long, but how well you have lived, is the main thing.”
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