Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 590–597 | Cite as

Purpose in life and incidence of sleep disturbances

  • Eric S. KimEmail author
  • Shelley D. Hershner
  • Victor J. Strecher


Purpose in life has been linked with better mental health, physical health, and health behaviors, but the association between purpose and sleep is understudied. Sleep disturbances increase with age and as the number of older adults rapidly increases, it is ever more important to identify modifiable factors that are associated with reduced incidence of sleep disturbances. We used multiple logistic regression models and data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50, to examine whether higher purpose was linked with a reduced incidence of sleep disturbances. Among 4144 respondents reporting minimal or no sleep disturbances at baseline, higher purpose was associated with a lower incidence of sleep disturbances over the 4-year follow-up. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each unit increase in purpose (on a six-point scale) was associated with a 16 % reduced odds of developing sleep disturbances (OR 0.84, 95 % CI 0.77–0.92). The association between purpose and sleep disturbances remained after adjusting for sociodemographic, behavioral, psychological, and health covariates. Should future research replicate our findings, this area of research may lead to innovative efforts that improve the quality of sleep in older adults.


Purpose in life Meaning in life Well-being Sleep Sleep disturbance 



We would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. The HRS (Health and Retirement Study) is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (Grant Number NIA U01AG009740) and is conducted by the University of Michigan.

Conflict of interest

Eric S. Kim, Shelley D. Hershner, and Victor J. Strecher declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric S. Kim
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Shelley D. Hershner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Victor J. Strecher
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA

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