March 16 (UPI) -- Psychologists at the University of Warwick in England suggest improving quality of sleep has similar benefits to health and happiness as winning the lottery.
Researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of more than 30,500 Britons over a four-year period and found that improved sleep quality leads to levels of mental and physical health comparable to those of a person who has won a lottery jackpot of nearly $250,000.
The team, led by Dr. Nicole Tang of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick, found that quality of sleep over time had benefits that outweighed the number of hours a person slept.
Study participants completed the General Health Questionnaire, or GHQ, used by mental health professionals to monitor psychological well-being. Participants who reported improved sleep scored two points higher on the GHQ, comparable to patients completing an eight-week program of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
The participants also had improved scores on the 12-item Short Form Survey, which tests levels of emotional and physical well-being.
The study showed a lack of sleep, poor quality sleep and increased use of sleep medication leads to decreased physical and emotional well-being.
"We are far from demonstrating a causal relationship, but the current findings suggest that a positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental well-being further down the line," Tang said, in a press release. "It is refreshing to see the healing potential of sleep outside of clinical trial settings, as this goes to show that the benefits of better sleep are accessible to everyone and not reserved for those with extremely bad sleep requiring intensive treatments."
The study was published in the journal SLEEP.