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Cultivating purpose in life could be drug-free strategy to improve sleep

Having a good reason for getting out of bed in the morning can lead to better sleep, less apnea and restless leg syndrome, scientists say. 

Cultivating purpose in life could be a drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality a study form Northwestern Medicine and Rush University Medical Center shows.

“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia,” said senior author Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”

The researchers worked with older patients, as aging has been linked to more sleep disturbances and insomnia and doctors are trying to use drug-free therapies in order to promote better sleep quality.

Of those participating in the study, people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome. They also had moderately better sleep quality, a global measure of sleep disturbance.

The scientists are now looking at mindfulness-based therapies and how they could be specifically designed in order to target purposefulness.

Sylvia Jacob