Better sleep feels like winning the lottery

March 16, 2017, University of Warwick
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Improving your sleep quality is as beneficial to health and happiness as winning the lottery, according to research by the University of Warwick.

Dr Nicole Tang in the Department of Psychology has discovered that working on getting a better night's sleep can lead to optimal physical and mental wellbeing over time – and that quality of sleep is more important than how many hours you get.

Analysing the of more than 30,500 people in UK households across four years, Dr Tang finds that improving your leads to levels of mental and physical health comparable to those of somebody who's won a jackpot of around £200,000.

The study shows that positive changes in sleep over time – improved quality and quantity, and using less - are linked with improved scores on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), which is used by mental health professionals to monitor psychological wellbeing in patients.

People surveyed who reported positive improved sleep scored a 2-point change in the GHQ – a result comparable to those recorded from patients completing an eight-week programme of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy designed to improve psychological wellbeing.

Furthermore, the same people showed improved scores on the 12-Item Short Form Survey, which tests levels of physical and emotional health, as well as people's ability to perform everyday activities.

Conversely, it was found that a lack of sleep, bad quality sleep, and using more sleep medication can lead to worsened medical and emotional states.

Dr Tang's research proves that improving the quality and quantity of sleep amongst the population – as well as discouraging the use of sleep medication - is an effective, simple and cheap method of raising the health and wellbeing of society as a whole.

Consequently, she argues that working on getting good quality sleep, and the reduction of sleep medication, should be promoted as a public health value – something that everyone can do easily to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Dr Tang comments:

"We are far from demonstrating a causal relationship, but the current findings suggest that a positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental wellbeing further down the line.

"It is refreshing to see the healing potential of sleep outside of clinical trial settings, as this goes to show that the benefits of better sleep are accessible to everyone and not reserved for those with extremely bad sleep requiring intensive treatments.

"An important next step is to look at the differences between those who demonstrate a positive and negative change in sleep over time, and identify what lifestyle factors and day-to-day activities are conducive to promoting . Further research in this area can inform the design of public initiatives."

The paper, 'Changes in Sleep Duration, Quality, and Medication Use are Prospectively Associated with Health and Wellbeing: Analysis of the UK Households Study' is published in SLEEP.

Explore further: Study finds no link between sleep apnea and joint pain

More information: Nicole K. Y. Tang et al. Changes in Sleep Duration, Quality, and Medication Use Are Prospectively Associated With Health and Well-being: Analysis of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, Sleep (2017). DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsw079

Related Stories

Study finds no link between sleep apnea and joint pain

August 1, 2016
Consistent with previous reports, poor sleep quality was linked with joint pain in a recent Arthritis Care & Research study of the general population, but the study found no association between obstructive sleep apnea and ...

Short and poor quality sleep may have negative effects on kidney function

November 19, 2016
Not getting enough quality sleep was linked with worsening kidney function in a study of patients with chronic kidney disease. The findings will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2016 November 15-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago, ...

Sleep is key to college success

August 17, 2016
(HealthDay)—It can be hard for college students to get enough sleep, and that can affect their physical and mental well-being, a sleep expert says.

Dreaming of a good night's sleep

October 22, 2015
New research from the University of Leeds has revealed that some people are losing more than 15 day's worth of sleep a year.

Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging

June 26, 2014
Research published today in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Warwick indicates that sleep problems are associated with worse memory and executive function in older people.

Sleep is key to curing chronic pain

September 21, 2016
Research from the University of Warwick reveals that the way chronic pain patients think about pain and sleep leads to insomnia and poor management of pain.

Recommended for you

Don't eat bitter pumpkin, study warns after women lose hair

May 25, 2018
A doctor warned Friday that bitter-tasting pumpkins and squashes can contain potent toxins, after two women were poisoned by their dinners and lost most of their hair.

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

May 24, 2018
A lot can happen at 160 degrees Fahrenheit: Eggs fry, salmonella bacteria dies, and human skin will suffer third-degree burns. If a car is parked in the sun on a hot summer day, its dashboard can hit 160 degrees in about ...

Research finds a little exercise does a lot of good for ageing muscles

May 24, 2018
Getting old doesn't necessarily mean getting weak and frail – just a little bit of exercise can help maintain muscle mass and strength, Otago research has revealed.

In helping smokers quit, cash is king, e-cigarettes strike out

May 23, 2018
Free smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, are a staple of many corporate wellness programs aimed at encouraging employees to kick the habit. But, new research shows that merely offering such aids ...

What makes us well? Diversity, health care, and public transit matter

May 23, 2018
Diverse neighbors. Health centers. Commuter trains. These community attributes, and other key factors, are linked to well-being and quality of life, according to Yale researchers.

Widely used e-cigarette flavoring impairs lung function

May 23, 2018
A new study has found that a common e-cigarette flavoring that has chemical characteristics similar to toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke disrupts an important mechanism of the lungs' antibacterial defense system. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.