Happier people tend to engage in healthier behaviors, thus contributing to a longer life; it is hard to have one without the other. We are staying on top of the latest research into the science of happiness to bring to you the best practices to keep your mind and body happy and healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three Americans lacks adequate sleep on a regular basis, and that’s not good news for our health. Lack of proper sleep can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and mental fatigue. But, new research suggests we may be getting better at it. A study published in the journal Sleep shows that sleep durations have been improving on weekdays and weekends for more than a 14-year period. A few reasons for the uptick in ZZZs are that people are watching less TV and reading less before bed. Plus, banking, shopping and working online frees up more time the hit the hay early.
In a recent study published in the journal Emotion, the psychological well-being in America’s youth decreased after 2012. What is creating all this sadness? One answer is technology. Teens who spent more time with their devices and less time on device-free activity (sports, studies and face-to-face social interaction) felt a decline in their personal happiness. The solution to this problem isn’t necessarily quitting cold turkey. Researchers find that the happiest teens use their devices less than one hour a day. More than an hour of use increases unhappiness.
It’s no secret that exercise can stave off physical decline as we age. The same is true for exercising our minds. Recent brain studies uncovered a few ways for us to practice keeping our minds sharp and focused. According to researchers from the University of Exeter, people who do daily crossword puzzles can strengthen their cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning and attention. For a less challenging approach, a longitudinal study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement shows that regular meditation rituals also improve attention span, focus and can fight off cognitive decline later in life.
Gotta Have Faith
In a study that scoured obituaries nationwide, researchers from the psychology department at Ohio State University found that people with more religion in their lives lived almost four years longer than people who did not. While the exact reasons for lengthier lives is not known, the study suggests many people who practice religion stay socially active, refrain from riskier behaviors, such as drinking and smoking, practice stress reducing rituals such as prayer or meditation and volunteered more, which are all activities that lead to happier and healthier lives.