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Happy heads may get better sleep

CORNELL (US) — When a person’s happiness swings widely in reaction to the good and bad things that happen during the day, sleep can suffer.

Researchers analyzed data from 100 middle-aged participants in a longitudinal study of midlife in the United States that included telephone interviews about participants’ daily experience as well as subjective and objective measures of sleeping habits.

Published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the study looked at the overall levels of positive emotion that the participants experienced in their lives—those associated with more stable personality traits, as well as daily fluctuations in positive emotions in reaction to daily events.

The team found that, as expected, having a more positive general outlook on life was associated with improved sleep quality. But they found that the more reactive or fragile a participant’s positive emotions were in relation to external events, the more their sleep was impaired, especially for individuals high in positivity to begin with.

“Previous research suggests that the experience of joy and happiness may slow down the effects of aging by fortifying health-enhancing behaviors such as restorative sleep,” says first author Anthony Ong, associate professor of human development at Cornell University. “Our study extends this research by showing that whereas possessing relatively stable high levels of positive emotion may be conducive to improved sleep, unstable highly positive feelings may be associated with poor sleep because such emotions are subject to the vicissitudes of daily influences.

“These findings are novel because they point to the complex dynamics associated with fragile happiness and sleep that until now have been largely attributed to unhappy people.”

Researchers from Penn State, the University of London, and Arizona State University were co-authors on the study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Source: Cornell University

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4 Comments

  1. scruff

    Wait a minutes, so what you’re saying is that science has proven that happy people sleep better? No, effing, way. So you’re telling me that depressed or sad people don’t sleep as well? Oh my god! I wonder what the scientific correlation is between that…hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  2. Joe

    LOL scruff. :)

  3. emc2

    no, they added the distinction that if you’re happy part of the day, but easily put out by setbacks or other things, maybe yr no better off than the unhappy person. So be happy, when it’s tuff, not just when it’s easy. or else.

  4. Mike

    I don’t think there’s any denying that happy people have a better quality of life, and thus a better quality of sleep. When you are unhappy it is reflected in your thought processes which can disturb you at night. I’m very fortunate – I sleep like a baby :)

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