Optimistic people sleep longer and have better quality shut-eye than pessimists, study finds
- Researchers gave volunteers a survey asking them to rate statements such as ‘I’m always optimistic about my future’
- With every optimism score increase, the chance of getting a good night’s sleep rose by 78%
- People with higher optimism scores were 74% more likely to no report symptoms of insomnia or to have daytime sleepiness
Optimistic people tend to sleep longer and have better quality sleep than those who take a glass-half-empty outlook on life, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that the most positive people were 78 percent more likely to describe their sleep quality as good and to get the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night.
There were also about 75 percent more likely than ‘pessimistic people’ to report no symptoms of insomnia or to have daytime sleepiness.
The team, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is not sure of the exact mechanism, but believes being optimistic helps diminish the effects of stress, leading to a more pleasant night’s sleep.
A new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that optimistic people were about 75% more likely to report no symptoms of insomnia or to have daytime sleepiness (file image)
For the study, published in the journal Behavioral Medicine, the team recruited more than 3,500 people between ages 32 and 51.
The participants’ optimism was measured using a survey that had them rate statements such as ‘I’m always optimistic about my future’ on a scale of one to five – with five being the highest.
Scores ranges between six, the least optimistic and 30, the most optimistic.
For sleep, the volunteers were asked to rate the overall duration and quality of their sleep during the previous month.
They were also asked how many hours of actual snoozing they did and if they had insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
Researchers found the higher a participant’s optimism score was, they increased their chance of getting a good night’s sleep by 78 percent.
Those with higher optimism scores were also 74 percent more likely than those with lower optimism score to report no symptoms of insomnia.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
However, a 2016 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three US adults sleep fewer than the recommended hours.
‘The lack of healthy sleep is a public health concern, as poor sleep quality is associated with multiple health problems, including higher risks of obesity, hypertension and all-cause mortality,’ said lead author Dr Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
‘Dispositional optimism – the belief that positive things will occur in the future—has emerged as a psychological asset of particular salience for disease-free survival and superior health.’
The team says it’s not sure of the mechanisms that cause optimism to induce better sleep, but believes it’s because positivity reduces the effects of stress and helps people sleep peacefully at night.
‘Optimists are more likely to engage in active problem-focused coping and to interpret stressful events in more positive ways, reducing worry and ruminative thoughts when they’re falling asleep and throughout their sleep cycle,’ Dr Hernandez said.
The research builds upon a previous study led by Dr Hernandez which found that people between ages 45 and 84 were two times more likely to have a healthy heart.