An endless amount of money worldwide is spent by people desperately trying to improve their quality of sleep. Things like sleeping pills, luxury mattresses, and even specialty pillows are all tools known to help you doze off at night. But what if your foolproof, no-more-messing-around sleep miracle was right under your nose the entire time?
Struggling to get to sleep and stay asleep is a problem that everyone has faced in their lifetime. Your quality of sleep is a key component of how your day, week or even your entire state of being pans out. If you’ve struggled with the issue for long, you’re probably more than ready to discover the sure-fire way to achieve the high-quality sleep that you’ve been craving.
According to one recent study, cultivating a “life purpose” could be the drug-free better sleep strategy
that you’ve been after all this time. And it could help you each and every night, not just every once in awhile like some of the other strategies that you’ve come across.
What researchers discovered in the study was that your state of mind at the end of your days plays a big role in how you’re sleeping at night. So if you’re anything like the millions of people that’s suffering from a lack of sleep
, keep on reading to shed some light on how you can cash in on the rest that you need to feel and function at your peak.
The Power of Purpose
Your purpose has a purpose of its own. Older adults (but really, people in general) are more likely to sleep better, and for longer, if they’re living a life with purpose. Whether you’re a teacher, cashier, or you volunteer at your local homeless shelter every weekend, that purpose isn’t just helping others – it’s gaining you some seriously high-quality shut-eye.
Sleep disturbances are extremely annoying, and extremely common (especially as you get older). While you may be aging like a fine wine and only getting better with time, your sleep quality is most likely not. Older people are more likely to experience insomnia and the ugly symptoms that come with it. So let’s go in depth on how you can rectify your rest by learning the power of purpose.
The Data Doesn’t Lie
The study we discussed above was among the first to look into one’s life purpose as a sleep component, and the very first to make the research long-term. The study lasted one year, and had 823 participants.
In the study, the members, ages 60 to 100 were asked to answer thirty-two questions on their life perspective, as well as their sleep habits and give a few statements in response to those questions.
Those answers included things like "I feel good when I think of what I've done in the past and what I hope to do in the future" and "some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them".
The statements were designed to pull from the subjects a general idea of their outlook on life, whether they had a purpose in life, and how they felt that it affected themselves and others.
The Issue at Hand
Nearly 40% of American adults aged 20-39 are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep, according to the American Sleep Association. Although the most common way for people to get the sleep they need at the last minute is through the help of some pill or supplement, the American College of Physicians recommends staying closer to the non-medical options as the first choice for disrupted and labored sleep.
As it turns out, sleeping pills aren’t actually doing what we assume they do when we take them. As University of California professor, Matthew Walker put it, they “sedate the brain.” They aren’t putting you into the deep, restful sleep that you’re expecting when you take them and they don’t replace the real, restful sleep that you need.
Give your legs a rest
Did you know that restless leg syndrome affects as many as 1 in 10 people in the United States? The sleep disorder (also called Willis-Ekbom disease) causes pain and discomfort in the legs, and the irresistible urge to move them. With the symptoms often getting even more severe as the night goes on, this disorder can make it pretty difficult to catch any decent shut-eye, no matter how heavy your eyelids get.
There has been some new light shed on those dealing with RLS. People who participated the mentioned life purpose and sleep study showed a 52% decrease in the chance of experiencing restless leg syndrome. And of course, they all reported overall better sleep quality.
Take a deep breath
Another common sleep disturbance experienced by the people is sleep apnea, which is most commonly characterized by shallow breathing or periods of time with pauses in breathing while one is sleeping. As you may imagine, that would be super uncomfortable during the day, let alone when you’re trying to sleep.
Sleep apnea is often even the cause for individuals waking themselves up through snorting or choking in their sleep. And since the average age of those suffering from sleep apnea is 75, you can imagine that shallow or interrupted breathing is not something that should be taken lightly.
The good news? It’s been proven that those who felt they had purpose in their lives were over 60% less likely to suffer from the scary effects of sleep apnea.
On the Path to Better Sleep
The researchers involved in studying the link between having a life purpose and getting better sleep also noticed that it might suggest better overall physical and mental health
. This very well could be what is leading to those folks getting such great sleep. It was also noticed that the subjects with set goals that they were following were usually more active, which could be another very good reason why those with purpose in their lives are getting so much better sleep than those that don’t have it.
In fact, if you’re having trouble sleeping, one of the best places to look for a solution is your local gym. You might even go for a two-for-one special and make getting into better physical shape your life’s purpose
and really cash in on getting some awesome rest. You’d be getting some exercise and also making it your reason for getting out of bed every day. Bonus!
Another sleep improvement method being considered by experts is mindfulness therapy
, which is said to significantly improve sleep quality. There’s a whole variety of different sleep quality measurements used in studies done on this subject (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, drowsiness throughout the day), so methods and techniques are taken and tested as much as possible.
Identifying Your Purpose
You’re worried that finding your life’s purpose and getting the better sleep that comes with it is something you’re not up to, right?
Wrong! Studies have shown that purpose isn’t simply black and white. It’s defined as something you’ve always thought you might enjoy doing, even if you weren't being paid or acknowledged for it. So for one person it could be a job or hobby. Or even just spending time with family.
Taking some time to do a short reflection on personal accomplishments, career achievements, your family and social life could help you discover yourself
and your path and purpose. A way to do this is to simply jot down some activities that you could do happily all day. Writing, singing, hiking, reading, volunteering, cooking, etc.
According to some of the top life coaches, the idea is to get creative and inspired. Enjoy yourself! Think of it as window shopping or planning for an amazing vacation in the near future.
If you want some more guidance, check out these three main components helping you to identify your personal purpose…
Develop a Support System
: Surround yourself with people who allow you to not only be yourself but also help you in exploring your passions. Your support system can be comprised of friends, teammates, family, or anyone else who you feel is healthy and helpful for you to be around.
Choose a Role Model
: Identify someone that you know (or know of) with characteristics or a lifestyle that you want to emulate. Evaluate how they got to where they are today, and make it possible for yourself. Keep the example in mind, but create your own path.
Get Out and Do Stuff
: As simplistic as this might sound, experiencing new things is key to figuring out your purpose and plan in life. Even people who come at life with a plan have it shaped and changed by the experiences they’ve had over the years. Think of life as a continuous journey and your search for purpose as looking for and following new roads.
If even identifying your sole life purpose isn’t doing your sleep quality any good, it might be time to check out some other sleep tips.
A couple of these include:
- Establishing a bedtime routine
- Cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in the evening
- Not eating a heavy meal before bed
- Avoiding rigorous exercise before bed
- Cutting out daytime naps
- Banning TVs and computers from the bedroom
Hopefully, with the help of these life and sleep hacks
, you’ll be snoring away in no time!
Given all the significant benefits and improvements that giving your life purpose will give to your sleep, there’s no way you’ll be able to keep your eyes open. It’s about time you answered for yourself the age old question; what’s my purpose? You’ll thank yourself later for the blissful sleep it gains you.