Better Sleep With Social Events

As a child, sleep is the last thing on your mind; however, as you get older, sleep becomes a treasured commodity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over ¼ of the US population doesn’t get enough sleep. Recently, a study out of the University of Missouri looked to see whether social events, such as volunteering or attending organized group meetings and religious events, had any effects on sleep.

What They Found
Researchers examined data from both 2005-2006 and 2010-2011, which included measures of sleep duration and quality, in 780 people ages 57-85. They compared sleep quality and quantity, as well as changes in social participation over a 5 year period. Researchers found that social participation is strongly correlated with better sleep quality (more social people sleep better). They also noted that volunteer work and religious participation showed the strongest affects. And, interestingly, when comparing social changes over 5 years, only religious participation showed significant positive effects on sleep quality.

What it Means
Participation in social groups provides people with social support and a sense of belonging, both of which are important for well-being. On top of this, it is well known that sleep is critical to general health, and it has been shown to help prevent obesity, reduce Alzheimer’s and heart disease risk, and even to help protect against skin damage and aging. A lack of sleep is also associated with decreased insulin sensitivity, which causes increased blood sugar and raises risk for type 2 diabetes.  All in all, sleep is critical for overall health and well-being, and being involved in social activities, especially volunteer work and religious events, could have benefits on both quantity and quality of sleep.

(Feature photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Matthew Poulsen

Matthew Poulsen is an intern with the Healthy Aging Project, and a student in the Integrative Physiology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.