Having a Purpose in Life Could Mean Better Sleep
Finding a purpose in life can be more difficult than we realize—but not having one can actually be detrimental.
We would all like to believe that we exist for a reason, or that we at least have a reason to wake up in the morning. But a surprising number of people find this area of themselves lacking when they search their inner-selves for the answers to these questions.
Being unmotivated, and feeling like you have no purpose, are both factors that can negatively affect us in life. But we often think of these things as factors that only affect our thoughts and feelings during the day, while we are thinking about them.
The truth, however, is much different. Feeling like you have no purpose can lead to a lot of negative consequences (at least, that is what a new study is telling us)… and as it turns out, even the quality of your rest may be affected by it.
Feeling ‘Lost’ in Life May Contribute to Sleeping Problems
Researchers from Northwestern University, who conducted a survey on over 800 people, ages 60 to 100 for two years, said that they found that ‘those who said they’d found a purpose in life slept better than those that felt lost.’
In fact… they found that people who didn’t know what to do with their lives were not just more likely to suffer from sleep apnea… they were also more likely to suffer from restless leg syndrome as well. Both of these disorders can really affect your quality of sleep… and researchers found that for many of these people, finding a purpose in life could be more effective than taking pills to aid with sleep.
This study is said to be the first of its kind in the sense that it was designed to measure the impact that life purpose could have on sleep disturbance—and the results were quite eye-opening.
How Do They Propose That People Find More Purpose in Life?
According to the senior author of the study, Dr. Jason Ong, who is also an associate professor of neurology at the University, “purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”
Mindfulness and yoga are actually recommended as drug-free treatments for insomnia by the American College of Physicians… but as of yet, it has not been determined if these therapies actually help to make the problem better.
It turned out that people who had more meaning in their lives, or who felt a greater sense of purpose, were 63% less likely to have sleep apnea. They were also 52% less likely to suffer from RLS.
So being motivated and having a sense of purpose in your life does help… and that is not surprising. We have all experienced, to some degree, what it feels like to be lost in the world. We have all felt the effects of not being sure what we were doing or where we were going, and have experienced what could be called ‘a general lack of a sense of purpose’… and the fact that these feelings have been found to keep us awake at night should not necessarily come as a surprise.
But… what was surprising, to us, was that these emotionally-based feelings and ideas actually manifested in physical problems. They were more likely to result in people experiencing sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome… which is kind of crazy if you think about it.
Of course, it is possible that the opposite is true. It is certainly possible that people who suffer from RLS or OSA could, instead, feel like their life has less purpose or meaning, maybe due to their lack of sleep.
But that, obviously, has not really been determined either.
In any case, sleeping seems to be much easier when you have a reason to wake up in the morning. That seems to be the major ‘takeaway’ from this one.