Research Pinpoints How Many Extra Minutes of Sleep Needed to Be Less Stressed

A lot of us go through our days feeling stressed out. When you spend time worrying about your past actions or what is ahead, you can wear yourself down. Living more in the present can help you relax more. People who are more mindful experience that, and now, a study found that getting an extra 29 minutes of sleep a night can help you be mindful.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the here and now and accepting it for what it is. It means not just going through the motions of your day.  It lowers stress and changes your brain. People who practice mindfulness technics have more gray matter in their frontal cortex — the place responsible for memory and decision making. Lowering chronic stress can help you avoid multiple diseases. And, it can improve your quality of life.

"We all need mindfulness for better work performance and daily well-being," said study lead author Soomi Lee, a researcher at the Univ. of South Florida School of Aging Studies. "Findings from this study show that, if you sleep shorter or poorer than usual, it degrades next-day mindful attention."

The study used a group of 61 nurses for two weeks. Nursing is a stressful job that is mentally and physically demanding with long hours. Researchers monitored their sleep, their self-reported mindfulness and health. The nurses responded to surveys about mindfulness three times a day about how much they paid attention to their tasks versus how much they were doing out of habit and automatic response. They also recorded their sleeping times. Nurses who had an extra 29 minutes of sleep had noticeably better results.

Being awake and mindful are not the same thing. You can be conscious and still acting by rote or tired but aware. "One can be awake and alert, but not necessarily mindful. Similarly, one can be tired or in low arousal but still can be mindful," said Prof. Lee. "Mindful attention is beyond being just being awake. It indicates attentional control and self-regulation that facilitates sensitivity and adaptive adjustment to environmental and internal cues, which are essential when providing mindful care to patients and effectively dealing with stressful situations."

This find could be a breakthrough for health care professionals. But it could also improve our lives. Few people would say that they have mastered a zen outlook without worry, regrets and stress. Having ways to live more in the moment and not think about our past actions can free up time to just enjoy what comes your way and make you calmer when you have a problem! If you spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, try to get a bit more shut-eye and see how you feel about it in the morning.

Banner Image: Cottonbro via Pexels
October 29, 2020
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