Want to sleep better and longer? Be optimistic

In a new study, researchers found people who are the most optimistic tend to be better sleepers.

The research was led by a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults fails to get adequate sleep.

The lack of healthy sleep is a public health concern, as poor sleep quality is linked to multiple health problems, including higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality.

In the study, the team examined more than 3,500 people ages 32-51. The participants included people in Birmingham, Alabama; Oakland, California; Chicago; and Minneapolis.

Participants’ levels of optimism were measured using a 10-item survey, which asked them to rate on a five-point scale how much they agreed with positive statements such as “I’m always optimistic about my future” and with negatively worded sentences such as “I hardly expect things to go my way.”

Participants reported on their sleep twice, five years apart, rating their overall sleep quality and duration during the prior month.

The survey also assessed their symptoms of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and the number of hours of actual sleep they obtained each night.

The team found strong links between optimism and quality of sleep. People with the highest levels of optimism had had almost 80% higher odds of reporting very good sleep quality.

These people were more likely to report that they got adequate sleep, slumbering six to nine hours nightly.

And they were 74% more likely to have no symptoms of insomnia and reported less daytime sleepiness.

While the scientists aren’t sure of the exact mechanism through which optimism influences sleep patterns, they suggest that positivity may buffer the effects of stress by promoting adaptive coping, which enables optimists to rest peacefully.

One author of the study is Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

The study is published in Behavioral Medicine.

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