We could all use a little more compassion in our lives. Speaking kindly, helping others, and being genuinely happy for loved ones can make you feel good. But did you know being compassionate can also help you sleep better? 

A recent study published in the journal Brain and Behavior found that having compassion can protect against difficulty sleeping. Having compassion might even ease depression symptoms.   

Scientists examined the relationship between how well someone sleeps and their reported levels of compassion in 1,064 people over 11 years. They took this data from a larger Finland-based study. They looked at all the people who answered questionnaires on compassion and sleep. 

People who answered that they “Hate seeing others suffer” or “It gives me pleasure to help others,” for example, were considered compassionate. Adjusting for factors such as age, gender, body mass index (BMI), and health status, they found that people who were highly compassionate towards others slept longer, had fewer problems falling and staying asleep, and felt less tired during the day.  

The study offered several reasons for this. Turns out, compassionate people might:

  • Have fewer symptoms of depression that could disturb their sleep 
  • Manage stress and cope better
  • Have better social support

Depression can play a significant role in sleep — it’s rare for someone with depression to not have some form of sleeping difficulties. Of course, lots of people who practice daily compassion can still have depression. But there’s evidence that being compassionate towards yourself and others might protect you against depressive symptoms.  

More research is needed to figure out how exactly compassion can help you sleep better. This new study does show a positive connection between compassion and how well we sleep at night. 

Looking for areas in your life to up your compassion? The holidays can be a great time to put your intention into overdrive by volunteering your time, showing random acts of kindness, or donating to your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday this November 28. 

You just might sleep easier for it.

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3 Sources

  1. Tolonen, I., Saarinen, A., Puttonen, S., Kähönen, M., & Hintsanen, M. (2023). High compassion predicts fewer sleep difficulties: A general population study with an 11-year follow-up. Brain and behavior.

  2. Plante D. T. (2021). The Evolving Nexus of Sleep and Depression. The American journal of psychiatry.

  3. Han, A., & Kim, T. H. (2023). Effects of Self-Compassion Interventions on Reducing Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: A Meta-Analysis. Mindfulness.


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