Older adults who live with a purpose in life are more likely to have a good night sleep and less sleep apnoea as well as restless leg syndrome, a study has showed.
Individuals have more sleep disturbances and insomnia as they get older. But, the findings demonstrated that people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 per cent less likely to have sleep apnoea — shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep, several times per hour.
Further, they were 52 per cent less likely to have restless leg syndrome — uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. They also had moderately better sleep quality, a global measure of sleep disturbance.
“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,” said Jason Ong, Associate Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies,” Ong added. For the study, published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice, the team included 823 participants — non-demented individuals 60 to 100 years old with an average age of 79.
The participants answered a 10-question survey on purpose in life and a 32-question survey on sleep. Poor sleep quality is related to having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and feeling sleepy during the day. Although the participants in the study were older, researchers said the findings were likely to be applicable to the broader public.