The key to happiness. Get enough sleep.

8 July, 2011

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  from “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” first published by Benjamin Franklin in 1732

If you are looking for increased happiness, as well as more optimism, joy, peace of mind and a greater sense of well-being, your first step should be to get more sleep.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said in a statement: “Whilst great emphasis is rightly placed on the importance of diet and exercise, sleep has for too long been neglected as a major influence on the physical and mental health of the nation.

The fact is that most of us don’t get enough sleep.  The pressures of modern life, along with constant exposure to television, email, social networking sites and 24 hour shopping have left us sleep-deprived and often with a general feeling of malaise.

A study published in the Journal Science found that the quality of your sleep significantly impacts your mood.

Interestingly, another U.S. study conducted by national research expert Bert Sperling found that there was no direct correlation between feeling happy and having a higher income, educational attainment, being fit and thin or having a job.

It makes sense that good sleep will make you happier: if you haven’t had enough sleep, you are likely to wake feeling grumpy, listless and irritable.  It is quite likely that this will spill over into your relationships at home and at work.

Essentially, lack of sleep saps our ability to experience pleasure.

The Great British Sleep Survey found that people with insomnia are:

  • Four times as likely to have relationship problems
  • Three times as likely to experience low mood and to lack concentration during the day
  • Three times as likely to struggle to ‘get things done’ at work or elsewhere in their lives
  • Over twice as likely to suffer from energy deficiency

 

We just don’t function terribly well when we are tired.  As a result, we are more likely to feel stressed and not feel completely in control of our lives.

Meanwhile, a good night’s sleep rejuvenates, refreshes and restores us.  When we experience adequate and good-quality sleep, it is amazing how it positively affects our mood.

According to The Mail Online, there is a very simple formula for happiness.  Experts examined the lives of 4,000 adults and found that  those who were happiest in life:

  1. Enjoy 6.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night
  2. Work just over seven hours a day
  3. Enjoy five home cooked meals a week and
  4. Jet off on two holidays a year.

 

14 other secrets to happiness:

  1. Be mindful – slow down and live life with calm awareness
  2. Be outgoing
  3. Cultivate healthy self-esteem
  4. Love yourself
  5. Eat healthy and nutritious food and drink plenty of water
  6. Exercise regularly
  7. Make space in your life for quiet contemplation
  8. Savour and appreciate the environment
  9. Spend regular time with family, friends and loved ones
  10. Have a purpose in life – work at a job that you really enjoy and work towards long-term, meaningful goals
  11. Watch your favorite programmes on TV (but not too much)
  12. Take regular breaks from your habitual routine – including at least one annual holiday
  13. Be optimistic
  14. Be grateful
  15. Act happy – positive thinking really works wonders

Don’t take sleep for granted.  It is a major factor in the quality of your health, productivity and well-being.

Source: The Happiness Project and WebMD

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