Getting enough sleep over time may improve your mood just as well as winning the lottery, according to a new study published in the journal Sleep.
Over the course of four years, researchers from University of Warwick in the United Kingdom analyzed data from 30,500 British adults. They found that those who improved their quality of sleep or reduced their intake of sleep medications over that time period improved their physical health and emotional well-being.
In fact, over the four years, their emotional well-being improvement was comparable to British lottery winners two years after hitting a medium-sized jackpot worth $250,000.
Experts like Cathy Goldstein, MD, assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center, say this study just confirms what many medical professionals already knew — good sleep is important to mental and physical health.
“When we sleep well, we feel better — but there may also be more than that,” Dr. Goldstein, who was not involved in the new study, told TIME. “If you’re irritable and having difficulty with interpersonal relationships, that could affect your well being. We also see changes in inflammatory markers with poor sleep, so people might actually physically feel worse when they’re not sleeping well.”
The average adult should get about seven or more hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case — in fact, 40 percent of adults in the United States get less than seven hours of sleep per night, a 2013 Gallup poll reported.
To get better sleep, experts recommend sticking to a sleep schedule, like going to sleep and waking up around the same time everyday — including weekends. By keeping a sleep schedule, you’re able to better regulate your body’s clock. Experts also suggest having a relaxing bedtime ritual, which will help alleviate the anxiety and stresses from the day.
Finally, keeping blue lights — which are emitted by electronics such as your smartphone — out of the bedroom is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that blue lights throw the body’s clock — also known as the circadian rhythm — out of whack. Blue light can suppress the production of melatonin, the chemical your body naturally creates to help you sleep.
Very few lucky people will win the lottery in their lifetime, but most people can carve out a bit more time in their evenings to get better sleep.
For more helpful articles follow the links below: