Getting an extra 29 minutes of sleep each night can be the key to improving mindfulness, a critical resource that has benefits for daily well-being and job performance.
Mindfulness is achieved by deliberately bringing an individual’s awareness and attention to experiences that occur in the present moment without forming an opinion.
Unlike previous studies, new research published in Sleep health looked at how the multiple dimensions of nighttime sleep affect daily attention, rather than just focusing on the quality or duration of sleep.
The study, led by the University of South Florida, found that better sleep improves mindfulness the next day, which in turn reduces daytime sleepiness.
The research focused on nurses, the largest group of healthcare professionals whose need for optimal sleep and mindful care is particularly high.
Sleep problems are common in this population due to long shifts, lack of control over the situation, and proximity to life-threatening health conditions. Your optimal sleep health and mindfulness are particularly important as you work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One can be awake and alert, but not necessarily aware. Similarly, one may be tired or slightly aroused, but can still be alert. ” said lead author Soomi Lee, assistant professor of aging studies at USF. Mindfulness goes beyond being awake. It indicates the control of attention and self-regulation that facilitates sensitivity and adaptive adjustment to environmental and internal cues, which are essential when providing conscious care to patients and managing stressful situations effectively ”.
Lee and his colleagues at USF and Moffitt Cancer Center followed 61 nurses for two weeks and examined multiple characteristics of sleep health. They found that the nurses’ mindfulness was greater than usual after nights with more adequate sleep, better sleep quality, lower efficiency, and longer sleep duration (half an hour longer).
Daily mindfulness helped reduce same-day sleepiness. Those with the most mindfulness were also 66% less likely to experience insomnia symptoms during the two-week study period.
The researchers reached these conclusions by using a variety of tools to measure how much the participants were attentive in each daily moment and how their mental states were affected by sleep.
Participants were asked to answer daily questions about mindfulness and sleepiness three times a day for two weeks using the smartphone app, RealLife Exp.
Daily attention was measured using the Mindfulness Awareness Scale, which asked questions such as “I was doing something automatically, without being aware of what I was doing” and “It was difficult for me to focus on what was happening.” Participants also wore an Actiwatch Spectrum device for the same two weeks that measured wrist movement activity to quantify sleep and wake patterns.
The findings of this study provide information on the development of a behavioral health intervention strategy for a broader range of people, especially healthcare workers who need better sleep and mindfulness. Given the association between mindfulness and better patient care, improving sleep in this population can also provide significant benefits for patient health outcomes.
(Source: University of South Florida)
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