We talk a lot about sleep hygiene, foods to help you sleep and other methods to aid sleep. One thing we don’t talk about as much: how your mindset can help sleep. Exercise, diet and a sleep routine can all help you get shuteye. But your problems with sleep might stem from not feeling fulfilled during the day.
A survey of 823 older Americans found that those with “significant meaning” in their lives were less likely to have sleep disturbances, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. It wasn’t a short study. The people in the study were tracked for two years. This was the first study to show that feeling purpose improves sleep over a long period. Other studies have found that it was true when measured in just one small window. And, while everyone in the survey was older, the researchers believe that their find is probably true for most people. Moreover, the outcome was the same across racial groups, meaning that this is useful for everyone looking to improve their sleep.
“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia,” says Jason Ong, senior author of the study and an associate professor at Northwestern Univ. “Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”
Purpose doesn’t have to be life-altering. It’s different for every person. Finding meaning in your day can be achieved by trying a lot of new hobbies, activities and keeping a full schedule. Feeling that your day had meaning is different for each of us. Getting your house clean, learning new recipes, making something with your hands can all make you feel accomplished and like you have achieved something. If you sit down at the end of your day thinking, “Boy, I got a lot done,” you might find yourself drifting off quickly and sleeping soundly!
People who had hope for what they were going to achieve in the future and believed that they had goals they were working towards had the best sleep quality. Therefore, joining some clubs or picking up a hobby that makes or achieves something might be best. Set a goal for yourself. Decide to read more, cook more meals, set a health goal or be more active in community events. Changing your habits can change how you view yourself, and that shift in perspective may help you sleep like a log!