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Overall Happiness Leads to Better Sleep, Study Reports

Update Date: Apr 29, 2013 12:42 PM EDT
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Getting a good night's rest has been linked to improved moods and performance levels for the day after. Although research has looked into this relationship, the reverse has not been studied as frequently. According to a new study, being happy and more optimistic on a particular day can lead to a better sleeping experience. This new finding suggests that the relationship between sleep and happiness is a cycle, in which either one can lead to the other.

The researchers from Cornell University evaluated the data of 100 middle-aged volunteers who were a part of a longitudinal study analyzing midlife within the United States. The data was compiled through telephone interviews regarding the participants' daily life activities, which measured for subjective and objective sleeping habits. The study also measured individual levels of positive and negative emotions that were derived based on personality traits and how those traits assisted with reactions to daily activities. As was predicted, the team found that people with generally happier outlooks on life have better overall sleeping experiences. The researchers also concluded that people who were more reactive or vulnerable to external events despite being happier had poorer sleeping experiences.

"Previous research suggests that the experience of joy and happiness may slow down the effects of aging by fortifying health-enhancing behaviors such as restorative sleep," said author Anthony Ong, an associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. "Our study extends this research by showing that whereas possessing relatively stable high levels of positive emotion may be conducive to improved sleep, unstable highly positive feelings may be associated with poor sleep because such emotions are subject to the vicissitudes of daily influences. These findings are novel because they point to the complex dynamics associated with fragile happiness and sleep that until now have been largely attributed to unhappy people."

The study, entitled "Linking Stable and Dynamic Features of Positive Affect to Sleep," was published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

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