A new study has found that improving your sleep makes you feel as good as winning the lottery.
According to Dr. Nicole Tang in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick in England, getting a better night’s sleep can lead to optimal physical and mental well-being over time. The study also found that quality of sleep is more important than how many hours you get.
After analyzing the sleep patterns of more than 30,500 people in the United Kingdom across four years, Tang discovered that improving sleep quality led to levels of mental and physical health comparable to those of somebody who’s won a jackpot of around £200,000 (about $247,150 US).
The study shows that positive changes in sleep over time — such as improved quality and quantity and using less sleep medication — are linked with improved scores on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), which is used by mental health professionals to monitor psychological wellbeing in patients.
Participants who reported positive improved sleep scored a two point change in the GHQ, a result comparable to those recorded from patients completing an eight-week program of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy designed to improve psychological well-being, according to the researcher.
Those same people also 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, the study found.
On the flip side, the study found that a lack of sleep, bad quality sleep, and using more sleep medication can lead to worsened medical and emotional states.
Tang argues that working on getting good quality sleep, and reducing the use of sleep medication, should be promoted as a public health value — something that everyone can easily do to stay physically and mentally healthy.
“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 well-being further down the line,” she said.
“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 sleep,” she said. “Further research in this area can inform the design of public health initiatives.”
The study was published in SLEEP.