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Dispositional optimists Sleep Better and have a Lower Risk of Insomnia: Austrian Study 2020

by Victor Perton

A study at the Austrian Medical Univerisity has shown that Austrians who were more optimistic have a lower chronic insomnia risk than those those less optimistic.

The authors of "The contribution of dispositional optimism to understanding insomnia symptomatology: Findings from a cross‐sectional population study in Austria" were Jakob WeitzerKyriaki PapantoniouClara Lázaro‐Sebastiàn, Stefan SeidelGerhard KlöschEva Schernhammer.

The researchers found "Promoting dispositional optimism could represent a simple and accessible strategy to improve sleep quality and lower insomnia risk, with downstream beneficial health effects."

"Promoting dispositional optimism might improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia symptoms, and vice versa. Both factors are independently associated with better health."

"Dispositional optimism can be promoted through training. A meta‐analytic review of 29 studies concluded that psychological interventions can increase dispositional optimism, and that the strongest effect was achieved when applying the Best Possible Self method."

Your Best Possible Self

The attitude and expectations of people towards their lives are essential for future health outcomes. Growing evidence has linked dispositional optimism to better health and a lower risk of chronic disease outcomes, especially cardiovascular disease.

Dispositional optimism, i.e. high expectancies for positive outcomes in the future and low expectancies for negative events is considered a continuous trait where optimism and pessimism represent opposite poles .

Optimists have been shown to maintain a healthier lifestyle, have lower cortisol levels when experiencing high levels of stress), in general have lower levels of other inflammatory biomarkers , and apply more effective coping strategies.

This evidence supports a potential effect of dispositional optimism also on sleep quality and insomnia susceptibility through factors such as improved coping. In previous research, dispositional optimism was associated with better sleep quality, as well as fewer insomnia symptoms in adults. In children, shorter sleep latency was associated with higher optimism.

In longitudinal observational studies, path analysis revealed depressive mood, stress symptoms and anxiety as possible mediators of the relationship of dispositional optimism and subjective sleep quality.

Anxiety and stress symptoms mediated the influence of dispositional optimism on sleep quality, while depressive mood partially explained the effect of worse sleep quality on dispositional optimism.

Read the original report

Jakob Weitzer MSc, Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna

"Chronic insomnia is a highly prevalent, often underdiagnosed and undertreated disease. Previous research has linked dispositional optimism to a better sleep quality and to insomnia symptoms, and showed that optimism can be trained. Since we think that positive psychology plays an important role for our health we wanted to further shed light on this topic."

"The most optimistic participants in our Survey in the Austrian population had a 70 % lower insomnia prevalence compared to the least optimistic. Results were similar for men and women."

"Training optimism, or related personal traits, might be a promising tool to prevent insomnia and other sleep problems. Further, optimism training could be combined with established treatment approaches which could potentiate treatment effects. "

"There is a need for prospective studies to show that optimism reduces insomnia risk. Also, we do not know if training optimism translates to a lower insomnia risk. In addition, it would be of value to investigate the effects of optimism on insomnia risk jointly with other character traits, such as self-efficacy or mastery."

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