Is Religion the Natural Insomnia Cure You've Been Looking For?
When you live with chronic insomnia, you want nothing more than a good night's sleep. This desperation often leads to the use of sleeping pills, which are not a viable long-term solution.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternative techniques and treatments for insomnia. For example:
- Changing your sleep-related beliefs
- Changing your sleep-related behaviors
Now it appears that we may be able to add one more technique to the list: being religious.
In a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of Religion and Health, researchers recruited 80 Muslim women with breast cancer to determine whether there was a relationship between quality of sleep and spiritual well-being and religious activities.
The sleep quality of each participant was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
Measuring spiritual well-being
To measure spiritual well-being, a scale was used with 10 items that measured each participant's relationship with God, and 10 items that measured each participant's relationship with other individuals and the physical world.
Measuring religious activity
A questionnaire was used to measure religious activity. It asked questions relating to private religious practice, attendance in mosque or other religious places, religious support received and provided, and strength of religious belief.
Close to 91 percent of participants were classified as poor sleepers, as measured by PSQI scores. This should perhaps come as no surprise since cancer has long been linked to sleep disturbances.
Although researchers did not find a link between quality of sleep and spiritual well-being, they did find that those who had a strong belief in God, or felt they had real purpose in their life, enjoyed a better quality of sleep compared to those who didn't hold such strong beliefs.
Those who regularly attended mosque or other places of worship were also more likely to demonstrate better sleep quality compared to those who did not.
Earlier studies have identified a link, too
This isn't the first time that religion and spirituality has been linked to sleep quality.
- A 2006 study involving those with HIV found sleep quality was closely related to spiritual well being.
- A 2008 study found that those on dialysis who had strong religious beliefs reported fewer issues with sleep-related daytime dysfunction.
- A 2009 study found that high levels of religiosity/spirituality predicted functional well-being in breast cancer survivors (sleep quality was one of the items used to measure well-being).
Spirituality may be good for more than just sleep
Earlier studies have also linked spirituality to:
As the authors of this study pointed out, religious places — mosques, churches, synagogues, meeting houses — are often seen as a source of relaxation in and of themselves.
Furthermore, the sense of community and support that's often associated with religious congregations can help reduce stress, anxiety, and worry — all of which are known to affect sleep and our overall quality of life.
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Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free insomnia sleep training for adults. His online course uses CBT techniques to teach participants how to fall asleep without relying on sleeping pills. More than 4,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 97 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.