Forget About Getting Rich. Sleep is the Key to Happiness.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to buy whatever you wanted? If money wasn’t an issue, imagine the possibilities – the home of your dreams, luxurious vacations, a life without care, right? How could it not be?

Still, as much as we are lead to believe otherwise, money just can’t buy happiness. The grand illusions we have that a better car, a bigger home, and a bottomless bank account would bring us great joy is just that, an illusion.

Psychologists at the University of Liege attribute this disconnect to "experience-stretching," which in this context means that wealth numbs our appreciation of the mundane joys of everyday life. As the authors of this study say, things like "sunny days, cold beers, and chocolate bars" no longer hold the same appeal; “having access to the best things in life may actually undercut people's ability to reap enjoyment from life's small pleasures.” But, life is made of mundane joys, most often things that money can’t buy.

Sleep ZPatch

It turns out, something much simpler is a much better key to happiness: sleep.

In a landmark study carried out by the Oxford Economics and the National Center for Social Research called the ‘Living Well Index,’ researchers found that people who regularly get a good night’s sleep enjoy an improvement in life satisfaction greater than the impact of a four-fold increase in disposable income. ‘Sleep was the strongest indicator of a broader sense of wellbeing,’ they said. ‘The majority of those with the highest Living Well scores reported feeling well rested most of the time, while more than half of those in the bottom 20 per cent of the Index said that they rarely, or never, felt well rested.’

We all know what it feels like to not get enough sleep and how wonderful it feels waking up refreshed, but it’s not just psychological. It’s biological. We NEED sleep.

Here’s what the science says:

  • After just one night of bad sleep, people tend to use more negative words and they are more aggressive and irritable.
  • After getting four hours of sleep for five nights in a row, people’s brains are about 60 percent more reactive to things meant to make them mad or sad.
  • According to the CDC, people that get less than 7 hours of sleep a night over the long-term are 57% more likely to have depression.
  • In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder (a type of anxiety disorder).

Can you guess the moral to this story? It should really come as a relief: focusing on your bed instead of your bank account will reap far larger rewards in the long run. But, don’t go all Rip Van Winkle on things and sleep your life away. The average person needs about 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Having problems clocking that much shuteye each night? Take our quick sleep hygiene survey to get customized recommendations for sweeter slumber.

Sleep Happiness Photo credit: Huffington Post

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