When It Comes To Living A Joyful Life, New Research Finds Sleep Is Key

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
When It Comes To Living A Joyful Life, New Research Finds Sleep Is Key
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We all know how sleep deprivation can make a bad day that much worse. When we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, every molehill starts to feel like a mountain. And new research finds that in addition to making the lows even lower, a bad night's rest can also put a damper on life's happy moments, too.

The study setup.

Researchers out of the University of British Columbia studied the sleep routine of 1,982 American adults over the course of a week. In that time, they identified two major trends: After a shorter night's sleep, people tended to feel extra peeved by stressful situations and less able to find joy in the good stuff the next day.

"When people experience something positive, such as getting a hug or spending time in nature, they typically feel happier that day," lead study author Nancy Sin, Ph.D., explained of the findings in a news release. "But we found that when a person sleeps less than their usual amount, they don't have as much of a boost in positive emotions from their positive events."

By conducting daily telephone interviews with participants and asking them about their sleep duration, daily stressors, positive events, and effect, Sin's team found that even "minor night-to-night fluctuations in sleep duration can have consequences in how people respond to events in their daily lives."

The resulting sour mood is nothing to brush off: We now know that chronic stress and negative emotions make us more susceptible to chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and leaky gut, as well as shorter-term infections like the common cold.

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It's yet another reason to prioritize sleep.

On the bright side, the study also found that longer sleep can set us up for more joy and positivity throughout the day. Researchers found that this was especially true for those who were dealing with chronic health conditions. "For those with chronic health conditions, we found that longer sleep—compared to one's usual sleep duration—led to better responses to positive experiences on the following day," Sin said in the release.

While this study specifically focused on sleep duration, Sin's previous research has found that sleep quality also affects mood. When we wake up in the middle of the night, for example, we tend to feel more stress-prone the next day.

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All this is to say that clocking at least seven hours of deep sleep a night is a quality investment in your mental health. Of course, sometimes it's easier said than done. So for the next time you're feeling restless, bookmark this checklist of healthy nighttime habits, this 15-minute bedtime meditation, or this primer on how to set up your bedroom for sleep. And when all else fails, mbg's ultra-popular sleep supplement magnesium+ is formulated to deliver deeper, more restorative rest and a breezier wake-up.* Because quality sleep is nothing to snooze on.

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