Do optimists sleep better than pessimists?
If you have an optimistic outlook in life, then you might be more likely to get a better night’s sleep according to a new European study.
Carried out by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna, the new study surveyed 1,004 Austrians about their general sleep habits and other factors such as their work, and measured their optimism using a validated test.
They found that the optimistic participants were 70% less likely to suffer from sleep disorders and/or insomnia than those who were more pessimistic.
Previous research has also shown that being optimistic appears to bring big health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic disease and even a longer life span. The researchers say that the new findings, which have been published in the Journal of Sleep Research, could suggest that a reason for better health among optimists is that they sleep better.
“Other 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,” said co-lead researcher Jacob Weitzer.
Participants who had the highest optimism score on the test tended to be older, healthier, happier, exercised more and had a higher educational level, compared with participants with intermediate and lower optimism scores.
However, the researchers point out that we can increase our optimism levels through various exercises, such as the “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,” explains Weitzer.
The researchers add that the method isn’t about necessarily achieving this “ideal,” it’s more about just thinking it to help set goals for an optimistic future.
It’s not proven that increasing optimism levels improves sleep, says Weitzer, however, previous studies have shown that optimists may have better coping methods to deal with stress which could influence the quality of sleep. Therefore boosting optimism could potentially be a simple way of improving the quality of sleep and lowering the risk of insomnia, which in turn could boost other areas of health. IB
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