The pursuit of happiness. At our core, we’re all looking to be happy and content. However, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing a great job of it. According to the General Social Survey, Americans give themselves a score of just 2.18 on a scale of 1-3 of happiness. That’s a big difference from the early 1990s when 8 percent of people surveyed said they were unhappy. In 2018, that figure jumped to 18 percent. While there are many factors that influence happiness – some beyond our control – there’s one that we can get a pretty good grip on – our sleep. Consistent good sleep has the ability to quite literally boost our happiness and improve our overall health. Experiments on sleep deprivation have shown just how badly it affects us. Stress goes up, concentration dips and our emotions run unchecked. Our health takes a fall, quality of life diminishes and happiness goes out of our reach.
There’s been quite a bit of research done on the effects of good sleep on health. We know that it can keep blood pressure and weight in check, can reduce obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. But what about happiness? What role does sleep play?
Before we explore the studies that link sleep to happiness, we need to know how things work. The amygdala – a set of neurons in the brain that plays an important role in processing emotions – relies on good sleep to function well. When we’re sleep-deprived, it’s unable to regulate emotions and manage anxiety. Even minor things that wouldn’t normally bother us seem to become a big deal.
Aside from the amygdala ‘malfunctioning’, the impact of poor sleep on physical health can also influence happiness. Excess weight gain and conditions like diabetes and heart disease that can result from sleep-deprivation create worry and stress and reduce confidence, all of which can dampen happiness.
Sleep-deprivation, even for only one night, can mess up emotions and happiness. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that just one night of poor sleep changes our ability to process emotions. For the study, 18 adults were kept awake for a night while undergoing tests consisting of neutral and emotional images. The tests followed one night of good sleep and another night of poor sleep. The participants were able to perform well in the tests after a good night’s rest but did badly when sleep-deprived. Rather than being distracted only by the emotional images, they were distracted by the neutral ones too. There was heightened activity in the amygdala during this time, indicating that this region of the brain was not functioning well.
Another study examined how sleep quality affected life satisfaction. In the study Published in Frontiers in Psychology, 257 students answered the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, an instrument that measures sleep quality, to find out the impact their sleep had on life satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, the results showed that sleep quality did indeed predict life satisfaction. Those who sleep well reported being happier with life. It’s thought that those who don’t sleep well tend to view happiness as a zero-sum game – wherein happiness was seen as being a finite, fixed experience.
Each day, we find ourselves having to stay in check whether it’s at work or at social gatherings. The many roles we play sometimes make us forget who we really are. We take ourselves too seriously and miss out on the happiness that comes with loosening up. Remind yourself not to fall into the trap of self-importance and learn to let yourself go a little every day. You’ll find yourself becoming more sociable and with a new perspective that’s very refreshing!
Life can be overwhelming after a while. All the responsibilities and chores that you carry out day after day can get to you. A vacation – even if just for a week – can help you recharge and motivate you to achieve goals. You don’t have to spend a lot or travel far either; it could be a trip outside of town, camping and hiking, or even visiting a loved one for a few days. Try to get away a couple of times a year, maybe more if possible, and see how much happier you feel.
Too often, we take care of everyone else around us but ourselves. When we do remember, it’s with a pang of guilt as if self-care is not something to indulge in. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking care of yourself every so often can rejuvenate you and reduce stress. It will boost your mood and make you happier. Being happy can also make it easier to sleep as there are fewer worrying thoughts in your mind.
The constant noise and distractions of the day, duties and deadlines can leave you stressed. There’s little scope for happiness while racing thoughts can keep you awake at night. At the end of each day, make it a point to set aside quiet time, even if it’s for just 30 minutes. It allows you to catch up with yourself. You can meditate, listen to soothing music or just sit quietly. You’ll feel calmer and happier. Winding down your mind and body this way also encourages sleep.
I used to believe I was just a bad sleeper, until I bought my first NUVANNA bed! I haven’t slept this well in years, or possibly ever! I could not be more excited about the quality of this bed and the improvements it has brought to my sleep! This is an investment that you will not regret.
A sleep haven doesn’t require big money. All it is is a quiet bedroom that’s dark, cool and free of distractions like clutter, gadgetry, and work. It’s a place that puts you in a calm, ready-to-sleep mode. Your sleep haven should also have a bed that’s incredibly comfortable so that you drift off to sleep soon after you get into it.
The Nuvanna mattress is the perfect choice for good sleep and happiness. It’s designed by a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience who had a vision of helping people lead a more balanced, happy life through better sleep. The Nuvanna mattress features three layers that address three common sleep disruptors – heat, motion and poor support. The top layer uses phase-changing gel particles that draw out excess body heat and disperse it into the air. The middle layer isolates motion so that your partner’s movements don’t disturb you and vice versa. The bottom layer provides support to your body, including your spine, to prevent neck and backache.
Happiness has a positive effect on everything we do. It can help us achieve goals more easily, maintain healthy personal and working relationships, and keeps us healthier. On the other side of the coin is sleep, an activity that can create or damage happiness. Prioritizing it can lead to a happier, stress-free state of mind and a healthier body. There’s everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose!