Chasing a more purposeful life could keep you from tossing and turning at night.
That’s not just a nice sentiment to needlepoint on a kitschy house decoration—it’s the finding of a new survey from Northwestern University.
Led by neurologist Jason Ong, researchers assessed more than 800 people aged 60 to 100 on their self-reported quality of sleep and motivations in life. The latter variable, which is a little less concrete, was measured by asking questions such as, “I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.”
Those who reported more meaning in their lives were less likely to have sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, in addition to having an overall higher quality of sleep, according to the study published in Sleep Science and Practice.
“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,” Ong told the Guardian, referring to the older generation that took part in his study. An estimated 32 to 45 percent of older adults report some difficulty with sleep, whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep, according to the study.
While this study focused on those older than 60, Ong believes his findings can be applied to the population at large. And if further research proves him wrong, well, it’s unlikely you’ll feel shafted by chasing a purposeful life just because the sleep benefits won’t come until you’re older.