Getting extra sleep at night may be the key to improving mindfulness, according to a new study published in Sleep Health. This new research found that by getting an extra 29 minutes of sleep each night, mindfulness in everyday situations was beneficially increased.
Mindfulness is achieved by purposefully bringing an individual’s awareness and attention to experiences without forming an opinion. While previous research focused on sleep quality and duration, this study was able to form a conclusion from analyzing how multiple dimensions of nightly sleep impact daily mindfulness.
For the study, 61 nurses were followed for two weeks and multiple characteristics of their sleep health were analyzed. It was found that those with greater sleep sufficiency, better sleep quality, lower efficiency, and longer sleep duration (an extra half-hour longer) had better mindful attention. Daily mindful attention also contributed to less sleepiness during the day, and those with greater mindful attention were 66% less likely to experience symptoms of insomnia during the two-week study period.
A variety of tools were used to measure the participants mindfulness each day and how their mental state was impacted by sleep. Participants were required to answer daily questions about their sleep and mental state three times a day for two weeks.
Daily mindfulness was measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. This scale asks such questions such as “I was doing something automatically, without being aware of what I was doing,” and “I was finding it difficult to stay focused 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.
Mindfulness in Nurses
This study led by the University of South Florida focused on nurses as they are the largest group of healthcare professionals whose need for optimal sleep and mindful attention are particularly high. Sleep problems among them are common due to long shifts, lack of situational control, and close proximity to life-threatening health conditions. During this COVID-19 pandemic, their sleep and mindfulness is particularly important while working on the frontlines.
Lead author Soomi Lee concluded the study by explaining, “One can be awake and alert, but not necessarily mindful. Similarly, one can be tired or in low arousal but still can be mindful. 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.”
Researchers found that 29 extra minutes of sleep per night could immensely improve mindfulness for the nurses. By getting these extra minutes of sleep, they are able to stay more focused, and keep a calm head when faced with stressful situations. This study helps to provide insight into developing better patient care by improving mindfulness in nurses. Researchers believe this can then provide important benefits to patient health outcomes as well.