Optimistic people sleep better, longer, study

People who are the most optimistic tend to be better sleepers.


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A study that includes 3,500 people aged between 32-51 found that more optimistic people, tend to be better sleepers. The outcomes highlight the association 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.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois, measured participants’ levels of optimism using a 10-item survey. Scientists then asked them to rate on a five-point scale how much they agreed with positive statements such as “I’m always optimistic about my future” and with negatively worded sentences such as “I hardly expect things to go my way.”

Scores on the survey ranged from six (least optimistic) to 30 (most optimistic).

Participants investigated their sleep twice, five years apart, rating their general sleep quality and term during the earlier month. The review likewise surveyed their symptoms of insomnia, trouble falling asleep, and the duration of sleep they acquired every night.

A subset of the members was a part of an ancillary sleep study situated in Chicago and wore activity monitors for three consecutive days – including two weeknights and one weekend night. Members wore the monitors on two occasions a year apart.

The monitors collected data on their sleep duration, percent of time asleep, and restlessness while sleeping.

Scientists found that with increased standard deviation, the average distance across data points – in participants’ optimism score, they had 78% higher odds of reporting excellent sleep quality.

Similarly, participants with higher levels of optimism reported to had an adequate sleep. They were 74% more likely to have no symptoms of insomnia and reported less daytime sleepiness.

Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, said, “Although a significant and positive association was found between optimism and better-quality sleep, the findings should be interpreted cautiously.”

“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.”

The findings, published recently in the journal Behavioral Medicine, bolster those of a prior study, in which Hernandez and her co-authors found that optimists ages 45-84 were twice as likely to have ideal heart health.

Kiarri N. Kershaw, Juned Siddique, Honghan Ning, and Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, all of Northwestern University; Julia K. Boehm of Chapman University; Laura D. Kubzansky of Harvard University; and Ana Diez-Roux of Drexel University co-wrote that study. That paper was published in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review in 2015.

The sample for the current study was drawn from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, which explored the development and progression of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a U.S. sample of non-Hispanic white and African American adults.

Hernandez’s co-authors on the current study included Dr. Thanh-Huyen T. Vu, Kristen L. Knutson, Mercedes Carnethon, Laura A. Colangelo and Kiang Liu, all of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine; Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Boehm, Kershaw, and Kubzansky.

The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.