Having a purpose in life may help you sleep better: study

Having a purpose in life may help you sleep better: study

Having a purpose in life may help you sleep better: study

The secret to a good night's sleep is having a reason to wake up in the morning, say scientists who found that older adults with a purpose in life are less likely to suffer from sleep disorders.

Researchers, including those from Northwestern University in the US, found that older adults who felt their lives had meaning were 63 per cent less likely to have sleep apnoea - a disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep.

The team also found that these people were 52 per cent less likely to have restless leg syndrome and had moderately better sleep quality, a global measure of sleep disturbance.

Although the participants in the study were older, researchers said the findings are likely applicable to the broader public.

"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," said Jason Org, associate professor at Northwestern University.

Poor sleep quality is related to having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and feeling sleepy during the day.

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder that increases with age in which a person has shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep several times per hour. This disruption often makes a person feel unrefreshed upon waking up and excessively sleepy during the day, researchers said.

Restless leg syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. Symptoms commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours and are often most severe at night when a person is resting, such as sitting or lying in bed.

Researchers studied 823 individuals between the ages of 60 and 100 years with an average age of 79. More than half were African American and 77 per cent were female.

Participants were asked to answer a 10-question survey on purpose in life and a 32-question survey on sleep.

For the 'purpose in life' survey, they were asked to rate their response to such statements as, 'I feel good when I think of what I've done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.'

The study was published in the journal Sleep Science and Practise.
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