Article Aug 08, 2019

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Optimistic people sleep 'better and longer'

People who are the most optimistic tend to sleep better and longer, researchers report.

Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, and a team of academics have conducted a study involving more than 3,500 people aged between 32 and 51, with participants taking part in a survey that measured their levels of optimism. They were also asked to give details on their sleep twice, five years apart, rating their overall sleep quality and duration during the prior month.

"Results from this study revealed significant associations between optimism and various characteristics of self-reported sleep after adjusting for a wide array of variables, including socio-demographic characteristics, health conditions and depressive symptoms," Dr. Hernandez said in a statement, adding that while the scientists aren't yet sure why there is a link between optimism and better-quality sleep, it could be because positivity may buffer the effects of stress.

"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."

For the study, monitors were used to collect data on participants' sleep duration, the per cent of time they were asleep, and restlessness while sleeping.

Accordingly, Dr. Hernandez and her co-authors found that individuals with greater levels of optimism were more likely to report that they got adequate sleep, slumbering six to nine hours nightly and they were 74 per cent more likely to have no symptoms of insomnia and reported less daytime sleepiness.

The findings have been published in the journal Behavioral Medicine.