PhotoGetting enough sleep is crucial for consumers of all ages, though it can be difficult for many people to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are attributing more successful nights of sleep to consumers’ outlook. Their recent study suggests that being more optimistic leads to longer, better nights of sleep. 

“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,” said researcher Rosalba Hernandez. “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.” 

Staying positive

The study included over 3,500 participants who were required to fill out surveys gauging their general outlook on life and sleeping habits, including how long it takes them to fall asleep and how often they wake up in the middle of the night. 

A group of selected participants took the study a step further by donning sleep monitors and having their sleep tracked for three nights in a row, one of which was a weekend night. The monitors were able to record accurate figures on the same factors that the participants were reporting on in their surveys. 

Using both the surveys and the data from the activity monitors, the researchers determined that having a more positive outlook led to better, longer nights of sleep, whereas the opposite phenomenon was also true. 

Participants with the highest levels of optimism were nearly 75 percent more likely to be alert during the day and fall asleep faster at night. These participants slept an average of six to nine hours per night. 

The researchers are unsure why this trend has emerged, but they believe that people who are more optimistic tend to feel less physical stress and have an easier time adopting restful moments. 

“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,” said Hernandez. 

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