Having a good night’s rest is like winning the lottery, a new study says.
According to researchers at the University of Warwick, improving sleep quality is just as beneficial to your health and happiness as winning a jackpot of £200,000 (or $330,491).
“We are far from demonstrating a causal relationship, but the current findings suggest that a positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental well-being further down the line,” says the author of the study, Dr. Nicole Tang, in a statement. “It is refreshing to see the healing potential of sleep outside of clinical trial settings, as this goes to show that the benefits of better sleep are accessible to everyone and not reserved for those with extremely bad sleep requiring intensive treatments.”
The study analyzed more than 30,500 people in the U.K. over a four-year period.
From her research, Tang was able to conclude that changes in sleep over time (quality, quantity and less use of sleep medication) are linked to improved scores on something called the General Health Questionnaires (GHQ), a tool used by mental health professionals to monitor psychological well-being.
In fact, participants who reported improved sleep jumped two points on the GHQ — a result very similar to if they were completing an eight-week program of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for improving psychological well-being.
On the other hand, poor-quality sleep, as well as fewer hours slept and an increased use of sleep medication, results in worsening medical and emotional well-being.
According to Tang, improving the quality and quantity of sleep while discouraging the use of sleep aids is an effective and affordable way of increasing the health and well-being of society.
“An important next step is to look at the differences between those who demonstrate a positive and negative change in sleep over time, and identify what lifestyle factors and day-to-day activities are conducive to promoting sleep,” she says. “Further research in this area can inform the design of public health initiatives.”
The research was published in the journal Sleep on Friday, World Sleep Day.
A 2011 Université Laval study reported that 40 per cent of Canadians report one or more symptoms of insomnia at least three times a week. The participants reported taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, being awake for periods longer than 30 minutes during the night and/or waking up at least 30 minutes before they had planned.
Furthermore, 20 per cent of Canadians report being unsatisfied with their sleep quality — however, only 13 per cent say they’ve consulted a physician about their sleep issues.
But what sleepless Canadians do turn to are prescriptions medicine (10 per cent), natural products (nine per cent) and over-the-counter drugs (7 per cent) to help them sleep.