Optimists live longer than pessimists and have a lower risk of chronic disease—this has been scientifically validated on multiple occasions.
In a new study, researchers found the reason for optimists having longer and healthier lives could be that they sleep better.
The research was conducted by a team from the Medical University of Vienna’s Division of Epidemiology.
In the study, the team analyzed the data of a 2017 online survey about general sleep and other factors such as people’s work situation and behaviors prior to going to bed in 1,004 Austrians.
They found that the probability of suffering from sleep disorders and/or insomnia was around 70% lower among optimistic participants than it was among those who tended towards pessimism.
Previous studies have shown that optimists take more exercise, smoke less and eat a healthier diet.
On top of that, they have better strategies for coping with problems and experience less stress in challenging situations. All these factors could contribute to better quality sleep.
The team points out that optimism can be cultivated by means of various exercises.
One of these exercises is the so-called “Best Possible Self” method.
This involves trying to imagine an ideal and writing down how one’s best possible life could look in the future. After several weeks of regular practice, it can help to increase an individual’s level of optimism.
This is not so much about achieving this ‘ideal’ but more about reflecting on it generally to help set realistic goals for an optimistic future.
However, it is not yet certain whether the increase in optimism achieved in these exercises can promote better sleep and better health.
Should this prove to be the case (and this would have to be tested in further studies), ‘optimism training’ might reduce the prevalence of sleep disorders and other health problems in the population.
One author of the study is Jakob Weitzer.
The study is published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
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