UTSA researcher studies the impact religion has on sleep quality

June 13, 2018

Can a person's religious practices impact their sleep quality? That's the focus of a new study by Christopher Ellison in The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Sociology and his collaborators.

Ellison worked with Terrence D. Hill, associate professor of sociology at the University of Arizona, and Reed T. Deangelis '15 '17, a UTSA alumnus and a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on a paper published in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

The researchers reviewed several large studies of religious involvement and sleep-related outcomes that included people from different age groups and religions. They analyzed several measures of religious involvement, including religious attendance, religious importance and frequency of prayer.

After examining these studies, the researchers concluded that people who have higher levels of religious involvement tend to have healthier sleep outcomes than their less religious counterparts.

Ellison believes the data suggests a person's religious involvement benefits their mental health by reducing stress, promoting social engagement and support from fellow church members, providing psychological resources (hope, optimism, sense of meaning) and promoting healthier lifestyles (lower levels of substance abuse).

"This research is relatively unchartered territory that allows us to better understand the way in which religion and spirituality affect a person's health and overall quality of life," said Ellison.

Ellison and his collaborators plan to present new research findings on this topic at the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR) meetings in Philadelphia in August 2018.

This follow-up project is based on data from a large, recent nationwide survey of U.S. adults. With this data, Ellison and his associates discovered that persons with a greater sense of assurance of spiritual salvation tend to enjoy better sleep quality and tend to have fewer negative sleep consequences due to stressful life events and chronic conditions. Ellison said much of the benefit of perceived spiritual salvation among the faithful is because these persons have lower levels of psychological distress, i.e., feelings of depressed affect and anxiety.

In 2011, Ellison co-authored a study that linked measures of religious involvement (religious attendance, prayer and secure attachment to God) with sleep outcomes (sleep quality, restless sleep, use of sleep medications). In the study, researchers used data collected from a national probability sample of active elders and other active members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (2005-2007).

The data showed that religious attendance and frequency of prayer were positively associated with overall sleep quality but unrelated to restless sleep and use of sleep medications. Ellison and his collaborators concluded religion could decrease psychological distress, substance abuse and stress exposure, which are all associated with sleep outcomes.

Ellison's research areas include religious influences on mental and physical health and mortality risk, religious variations in family life, the role of religion in racial and ethnic minority populations and religious influences on social and political attitudes. He has published two books and nearly 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these and other topics.
-end-
The College of Liberal and Fine Arts (COLFA) is one of UTSA's most academically diverse colleges made up of renowned faculty drawn from prestigious institutions around the world who are conducting high quality social science research and presenting their findings nationally and internationally.

UTSA is a multicultural discovery enterprise institution and model urban serving university. It specializes in health, energy, security, sustainability and human and social development. The university is ranked among the nation's top five young universities, according to Times Higher Education.

University of Texas at San Antonio

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.