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Old Man Falling Asleep Sitting Down

Having a Sense of Purpose May be Key to Better Sleep Later in Life

As people age, they tend to be more prone to sleep disturbances and insomnia. A recent study suggests that mature adults who have a purpose in life sleep better, have less sleep apnea, and are less likely to suffer from restless leg syndrome.

Participants in the study included 823 people who did not have dementia and were between the ages of 60 and 100, with an average age of 79. All of the participants completed a 10-question survey about their purpose in life and a 32-question sleep survey.

After examining the data, the researchers found 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 than those who did not feel their life had a purpose. They also reported moderately better sleep quality.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted the study. It was published on July 10, 2017, in the journal Sleep Science and Practice.

Previous studies have linked not getting enough sleep with faster cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Some methods to try to improve your sleep include eating less high fat foods, eliminating “blue light” (such as the light from your phone) just before bed, and increasing exercise levels.

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