Optimistic people tend to sleep the best, new research finds.
People who are hopeful about the future were 78 percent more likely to report very good quality sleep.
Positive people also reported getting a good amount of sleep: six to nine hours per night.
Finally, optimists were much less likely to report any symptoms of insomnia or daytime sleepiness.
The reason optimism is linked to better sleep could be that it promotes positive coping.
People who cope adaptively with stress in life tend to seek support from others, eat properly, exercise regularly and anticipate stressful episodes.
The good news is that optimism is not fixed in stone.
Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.
Inadequate sleep is linked to an increased risk of many chronic diseases, said Professor Rosalba Hernandez, the study’s first author, said:
“The lack of healthy sleep is a public health concern, as poor sleep quality is associated with multiple health problems, including higher risks of obesity, hypertension and all-cause mortality.
Dispositional optimism — the belief that positive things will occur in the future — has emerged as a psychological asset of particular salience for disease-free survival and superior health.”
The study included 3,548 people across three large US cities.
They completed measures of optimism and reported on their sleep quality.
People who are optimistic tend to agree strongly with statements like “I’m always optimistic about my future” and strongly disagree with statements like “I hardly expect things to go my way.”
Some participants were brought into the lab to have their sleep quality directly measured.
Professor Hernandez explained what the study found:
“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.”
Optimism promotes adaptive coping, said Professor Hernandez:
“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.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Behavioral Medicine (Hernandez et al., 2019).