If you’ve been having restless nights and can’t turn your brain off long enough to get some sleep, there is an unexpected remedy for your insomnia: finding your purpose.
It may seem a bit abstract, but a recent study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that having purpose in your daily life leads to fewer sleep disturbances and an improved quality of sleep.
The study looked at a group of older adults — 823 participants ranging in age from 60 to 100 who had full command of their mental faculties. The researchers had the participants fill out two surveys, one with 10 questions about purpose in life — i.e. “I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” — and another with 32 questions about sleep.
In particular, the researchers found that people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea — when you have pauses in your breathing during sleep –and 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome. They also saw better sleep quality in those who answered the purpose questions affirmatively.
So the next time you find yourself up in the middle of the night, instead of counting sheep, think about what will make you excited to get up in the morning and figure out the steps you need to take in order to achieve that goal.