Does meaning in life affect human sleep?
Some people have enormous problems with their sleep. Sometimes you just fall asleep in front of the TV without even wanting to. Then there are also days on which those affected lie awake half the night and simply cannot fall asleep. Researchers have now found out what can help many people with disturbed sleep. There are no medications, no sleep apnea, and the widespread sheep does not count. The secret is that people with a meaning in life generally have better sleep.
Scientists at Northwestern University and Rush University Medical Center found that a meaning or purpose in life makes people less likely to have sleep problems. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "BioMed Central".
People with meaning in life have fewer sleep disorders
The current investigation now showed that a purpose in life leads to less sleep disorders and improved sleep quality over a long period of time. Although the study was carried out on older subjects, the results are likely to apply to a broader group of the population, the experts speculate.
Certain therapies can help find meaning in life
Helping people find a purpose in their lives could be an effective strategy to improve sleep quality. This is especially true for people with sleep problems, explains author Professor Jason Ong. Finding a meaning or purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and strengthened through special therapies.
Older people are more likely to experience sleep problems
People have more sleep disorders with increasing age and suffer more from insomnia. Experts prefer interventions that do not require medication to treat sleep problems, explains Ong. The next step should be to examine these special so-called mindfulness-based therapies in more detail. In this way, people can find meaning in life and thereby achieve increased sleep quality, explains the expert.
Doctors examined over 800 subjects
For the study, 823 subjects were examined, all of whom were at least 60 years old and did not suffer from dementia. The average age of the participants was 79 years. More than half of all subjects were African-American and 77 percent were female, the experts say.
People with meaning in life suffer 63 percent less from sleep apnea
If participants felt that their life had a purpose, these people 63 percent less likely to suffer from sleep apnea and 52 percent less of what was known as restless legs syndrome. These participants also had improved sleep quality, the authors add.
People with sleep problems should take special therapy
For the study, the participants answered a total of ten questions about the meaning of life and an additional 32 questions about their sleep. The next step in treating sleep problems should be the use of so-called mindfulness-based therapies. The authors explain that those affected could find meaning in life and benefit from the advantages of improved sleep quality.
What is sleep apnea?
For example, poor sleep quality is associated with difficulty falling asleep and severe fatigue during the day, the scientists say. Sleep apnea is a common disease that increases with age. In this state, people suffer from very shallow breathing and short interruptions in breathing that occur several times an hour, the experts explain. This disruption to sleep causes sufferers to wake up several times during the night and become excessively sleepy the next day.
What is restless legs syndrome?
The so-called restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. This creates an irresistible urge to move your legs. Symptoms usually appear in the late afternoon or evening. The sensations are often the hardest at night, for example when people sit relaxed in front of the television or lie in their bed, the scientists add. (as)