By John Salak –
The word of the Lord may be right and true, according to Psalm 33:4. But unfortunately listening to it doesn’t always lead to a good night’s sleep.
Atheists and agnostics appear to be able to sleep better and longer than Catholics and Baptists, according to a study by Baylor University.
The conclusions are based on a survey of more than 1,500 participants that focused on religious affiliation, behaviors, perceptions, difficulty falling asleep and average total sleep times. The results showed that 73 percent 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, only 63 percent of Catholics and 55 percent Baptists claimed to get at least seven hours per night. Atheists and agnostics also reported experiencing less difficulty falling asleep.
In a curious twist, participants who slept well also believed they were more likely to get into heaven, compared to those who slept poorly. These perceptions of heaven, however, were unrelated to difficulty falling asleep at night. The study’s authors claim this pattern indicates that better sleep leads to a more optimistic outlook, which translated for those survey participants to having positive expectations of getting into heaven.
Researchers admit that is no clear reason why Catholics and Baptists have a tougher time sleeping than atheists and agnostics. The research offered no indications that the problems stem from religious teachings or involvement in church communities. But they quickly add that well-rested individuals would probably make more effective church members.
“Mental health is increasingly discussed in church settings—as it should be—but sleep health is not discussed,” noted lead author Kyla Fergason, a student at Baylor. “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.”