Optimism is associated with greater physical and mental health, and a Key reason why may be linked to its role in promoting better sleep.
In a study of 3,548 people, those who were the most optimistic enjoyed higher quality sleep, hinting at the importance of a positive outlook in getting a good night’s rest.
While the reason why optimism leads to better sleep was not revealed by this study, the researchers, from the University of Illinois, suggested it could be due to buffering the effects of stress, leading to better coping mechanisms.
In other words, optimists may spend less time lying in bed with their mind racing, allowing them to drift off easier.
“Optimists are more likely to engage in active problem-focused coping and to interpret stressful events in more positive ways, reducing worry and ruminative thoughts when they are falling asleep and throughout their sleep cycle,” study author Rosalba Hernandez said in an e-Mail.
The study’s conclusion: optimism and sleep quality are both cause and effect of each other. Depressive mood partially explained the effect of sleep quality on optimism, whereas anxiety and stress symptoms were mechanisms bridging optimism to sleep quality.
The ability to be optimistic, which is defined as the “generalized expectation that good things will happen” is protective against cardiovascular disease (CVD), such that it reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Lead author Julia Boehm noted in a news release that being positive is about more than the absence of negative:
“The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight.
For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.”
Being optimistic is also linked to a longer life span, with increasing levels of optimism associated with lower risk of mortality.
In fact, optimism was associated with a lower risk of death from chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease, as well as infection.
The Key take-a-way: “Be an Optimist, and never let anything disturb your peace of mind.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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