Positive Effects of Laughter on Sleep and Depression
While many say that laughter is the best medicine, scientific research is confirming the benefits of laughter in promoting overall health and wellness, and more specifically it can boost the effectiveness of treatments used to improve depression and sleep quality.
Depression is a common mood disorder which tends to affect more women than men, and studies have shown that approximately 30% of adults will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Depression can affect one’s ability to function in society and it negatively impacts one’s perception of the world. It is also linked to other health issues including heart problems as one’s emotional state affects other areas of health.
Sleep is another factor that can affect overall health. For those with insomnia, which is defined as the chronic inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep, health problems may develop in addition to the more immediate problems that result from insufficient rest. Occasional sleeplessness does not cause the debilitating problems that result from long-term insomnia, as the body can later recover when sleep is restored, but chronic insomnia does not allow the body to catch up on much needed sleep. While Insomnia is not classified as a disease, it results from physical and emotional disorders, and it can cause additional health problems.
Leading Causes of Insomnia:
- Alcohol intake
Insomnia is common among those with the following illnesses:
- Kidney problems
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
Recently studies have been conducted to determine the effect of laughter therapy on promoting overall health and wellness. Doctors have determined that those who shared laughter were better able to maintain a positive attitude, and this translated into a better response to treatment. Laughter therapy utilizes laughter, and specifically the physical process of laughter, in patients with emotional of physical discomfort to help relieve their stress or pain.
Physiological Responses to Laughter:
- Increased respiration
- Increased circulation
- Hormonal and digestive enzyme secretion
- Leveled blood pressure
A recent study involving laughter therapy was conducted on adults aged 65 and older to determine the effects of laughter specifically on depression, cognition and sleep. The participants were divided into two groups: a laughter therapy group and a control group. Both groups were tested with depression evaluations, mental health examinations and sleep quality tests. At the conclusion of the study researchers discovered that those in the laughter therapy group had significantly reduced levels of depression and occurrences of insomnia. They also found that those in the laughter therapy group experienced improved sleep quality and, consequently, improved mental cognition.
Laughter is good for those of all ages and can have very positive effects on health. It is one of the most enjoyable and inexpensive activities that can quickly begin to improve sleep quality and ease depression.