Mindfulness is Related to Better Sleep

Mindfulness is Related to Better Sleep


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.” – John Cline


Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. This is heightened in college students who are generally highly stressed. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. But the mechanisms by which mindfulness improves sleep have not been well explored.


In today’s Research News article “Relationship Between Trait Mindfulness and Sleep Quality in College Students: A Conditional Process Model.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.576319/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1456740_69_Psycho_20201013_arts_A ) Ding and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of mindfulness, sleep quality, mood states, and personality. They then subjected the data to regression analysis.


They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness of the students the lower the levels of neuroticism and negative mood states, and the better the sleep quality. In addition, the greater the negative mood states the poorer the sleep quality and the higher the levels of neuroticism. So, mindfulness was associated with lower negative mood states which were in turn associated with better sleep. They also found that neuroticism significantly affected the relationship of mindfulness with the quality of sleep. Mindfulness was only significantly related to better sleep quality when neuroticism was low but not when it was high.


It has been well documented in previous research that mindfulness is related to better sleep quality and improved mood. The present study contributes to our understanding of the mindfulness – sleep relationship by demonstrating that the personality characteristic of neuroticism disrupts the relationship; when neuroticism is high the relationship between mindfulness and sleep disappears.


Neuroticism is a personality trait that indicates a tendency toward negative emotions and self-doubt. Neurotic people generally have high negative mood states. It is possible that neuroticism disrupts the mindfulness – sleep relationship by preventing mindfulness from improving mood and thereby improving sleep. This interpretation must be tempered with the understanding that these relationships are correlational. So, definitive conclusions about causation cannot be reached. Nevertheless, previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness causes improved sleep. So, it is likely that the present results represent causal connections.


So, mindfulness is related to better sleep.


We cannot make ourselves sleep, but perhaps, by aiming to stay settled and getting less caught up in our thoughts, we fall asleep anyway.” – Mark Bertin


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Ding X, Wang X, Yang Z, Tang R and Tang Y-Y (2020) Relationship Between Trait Mindfulness and Sleep Quality in College Students: A Conditional Process Model. Front. Psychol. 11:576319. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.576319


Sleep quality can affect the physical and mental health, as well as the personal development of college students. Mindfulness practices are known to ameliorate sleep disorder and improve sleep quality. Trait mindfulness, an innate capacity often enhanced by mindfulness training, has been shown to relate to better sleep quality and different aspects of psychological well-being. However, how individual difference factors such as trait mindfulness relate to sleep quality remains largely unclear, which limits the optimization and further application of mindfulness-based intervention schemes targeting the improvement of sleep quality. In this study, we aimed to investigate how negative emotions and neuroticism may influence the relationship between trait mindfulness and sleep quality. A conditional process model was built to examine these relationships in 1,423 Chinese young adults. Specifically, the conditional process model was constructed with trait mindfulness as the independent variable, sleep quality as the dependent variable, negative emotions as the mediating variable, and neuroticism as the moderating variable. Our results showed that negative emotions mediated the link between mindfulness and sleep quality and that neuroticism had a moderating effect on the relationship between mindfulness and sleep quality. Together, these findings suggested a potential mechanism of how trait mindfulness influences sleep quality, provided a therapeutic target for which mindfulness-based interventions may act upon to improve sleep quality, and offered a basis for prediction of different intervention effects among individuals.



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