While we all have our own sleeping schedules and while you’d expect that would hold us back when it comes to studies like this, it doesn’t seem to. It seems though, those who are without religion actually tend to get the sleep they need more-so than those who are prominent believers. 

A study that came out this year seems to suggest that those who do not believe in God or those who are without religion end up getting more sleep than those who do. This making many questions just how soothing religion can be, while it should make a person feel less stress, is it having the opposite effect?

The results and conclusion of this study are listed as follows:

Religious affiliation was associated with sleep duration, but not in the predicted direction. Atheists/Agnostics (73%) were significantly more likely to report meeting consensus sleep duration guidelines than religiously-affiliated individuals (65%), p<.05. For example, Atheists/Agnostics reported better sleep duration than Catholics (63%, p<.01) and Baptists (55%, p<.001). Atheists/Agnostics also reported less difficulty falling asleep at night than Catholics (p=.02) and Baptists (p<.001). The effects persisted when controlling for age and were particularly evident in members of African American congregations. Perceptions of getting into Heaven were significantly higher in participants who obtained better sleep duration, p<.05, but interestingly, such beliefs/perceptions were unrelated to difficulty falling asleep at night, suggesting that better sleep may lead to these perceptions rather than vice versa.

In contrast to predictions, religious affiliation was associated with significantly poorer sleep health. Poor sleep health has implications for physical and mental health, and seemingly also religious perceptions/beliefs. Future experimental work is required to disentangle the causal direction of sleep-religiosity associations.

For this study researchers looked at data from over 1,500 people from the BRS-5 (Wave 5 of the Baylor Religion Survey) and broke things down from there. Within this those who participated had to rate things in regard to religion and then from there also rate their sleeping average and how hard it was/is for them to fall asleep in general. All of this meaning if you’re agnostic or atheist, you might be getting better sleep than most other people.

In a release covering this study as follows was written:

Preliminary results show that 73% of atheists and agnostics reported getting seven or more hours of nightly sleep, which is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to promote optimal health. In contrast, 63% of Catholics and only 55% of Baptists reported sleeping at least seven hours per night. Atheists and agnostics also reported experiencing less difficulty falling asleep.

“Mental health is increasingly discussed in church settings — as it should be — but sleep health is not discussed,” said lead author Kyla Fergason, a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. “Yet we know that sleep loss undercuts many human abilities that are considered to be core values of the church: being a positive member of a social community, expressing love and compassion rather than anger or judgment, and displaying integrity in moral reasoning and behavior. Could getting better sleep help some people grow in their faith or become better Christians? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but we do know that mental, physical, and cognitive health are intertwined with sleep health in the general population.”

What do you think about all of this? I for one am quite blown away. How well do you sleep? I for one sleep fine most of the time.

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