Poor Sleep and Unhappiness
Have trouble sleeping? Dissatisfied with your life? The two just might be connected.
In fact, people who experience ongoing sleep problems may be three times as likely to become dissatisfied with their lives later on, says a study from Finland.
The study, which looked at 18,631 same sex twins, measured sleep quality and life satisfaction in an interval of six years, first in 1975 and then in 1981. To measure satisfaction people were asked about how hard they thought their life was, as well as feelings of loneliness, happiness and ability to experience pleasure or joy. Sleep was measured by both perceived quality and length of sleep.
The researchers, from the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, found that:
— Participants who reported dissatisfaction with life in 1975 were also likely to be dissatisfied in 1981. However, their sleep quality did not deteriorate over this period.
— People who said they slept poorly in 1975 were more than twice as likely to be dissatisfied with life in 1981.
After adjusting for other factors that may have played a role — such as health problems, smoking and/or drinking habits and physical activity level — researchers found that poor sleep independently tripled the likelihood of life dissatisfaction.
Sleep directly affects the brain, emotions, and mood
And while the findings indicate that bad sleep quality may lead to dissatisfaction with life, the reverse is not true, the researchers say. Rather, something about sleeping poorly in and of itself may affect “the brain, emotions, and mood,” they wrote in a report about the study.
If you’re one of the 9 out of 10 Canadians who report having sleep problems*, here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Set a schedule and stick to it.
Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Disrupting this routine may interrupt your inner ‘circadian clock’ and lead to insomnia. While ‘sleeping in’ on weekends may seem like a treat, it can make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because it re-sets your sleep cycles for a later awakening.
Watch what you eat.
The general rule is: Don’t eat for at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Eating too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. It is best to avoid a heavy meal and spicy foods too close to bedtime.
Watch what you drink.
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. This includes coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Alcohol tends to keep people in lighter stages of sleep, robbing them of deep and REM sleep. Note: Smokers also tend to sleep lightly and often wake up early because of nicotine withdrawal.
Get regular exercise.
Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Keep in mind, however, that while daily exercise often helps people sleep, a workout too soon before bedtime may actually interfere with sleep. In addition to making us more alert, our body temperature rises during exercise, and takes as much as 6 hours to begin to drop. Since a cooler body temperature is associated with the onset of sleep, it is better to finish your exercise at least 5 to 6 hours before going to bed.
Establish relaxing rituals.
Leave the day’s stresses behind with a warm bath, reading or another relaxing activity. Avoid arousing activities before bedtime like working, paying bills, engaging in competitive games or family problem solving.