If like 70% of Brits you struggle with getting eight hours of sleep per night, then you’ll be pleased to hear that scientists have finally discovered the key to feeling better rested.
And the answer is not drinking three cups of coffee as soon as you wake up.
Instead the study suggests that whether or not you’ll wake up feeling refreshed is decided by one simple factor: If you have a purpose in life.
The team of researchers, from Rush University Medical Centre, found that people who have a purpose or meaning in life are less likely to suffer with sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, and have overall better sleep quality.
For the study, participants answered a 10-question survey on purpose in life and a 32-question survey on sleep.
The results showed that people who felt their lives had meaning were 63% less likely to have sleep apnea and 52% less likely to have restless leg syndrome. They also had moderately better sleep quality, a global measure of sleep disturbance.
According to the NHS, sleep apnea is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing.
And restless leg syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them with symptoms most commonly occurring when a person is lying in bed.
Jason Ong, senior author, said: “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...purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”
This is the first study to show having purpose specifically results in fewer sleep disturbances and improved sleep quality over a long period of time.
Previous research showed having a purpose in life generally improves overall sleep when measured at a single point in time.
The study looked at 823 older adults, aged between 60 and 100-years-old (with an average age of 79), who were 77% female and were not suffering with dementia.
Although this is a specific cross section of the public, the team suggested that the results would be replicated across other demographics too.
The next step would be to look at how mindfulness-based therapies could target sleep conditions.