(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 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.
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.
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.
Learn more about Christopher Ellison.
Learn more about UTSA Department of Sociology.
Learn more about UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
The Roadrunner community and nearby residents are highly encouraged to cast their votes at UTSA, a designated early voting site for the March 3 Texas presidential primary election.H-E-B Student Union, Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The best way to learn what UTSA has to offer is to experience it for yourself. Come to our Open House and see all that UTSA has to offer. The day features admissions and financial aid workshops and presentations, campus tours and much more.Various Locations, Main Campus
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health care, you won’t want to miss UTSA’s 14th annual Health Professions Day. Meet with representatives of health professions programs at schools such as Texas Tech University Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch, University North Texas Health Science Center, University of the Incarnate Word, and many more. Free and open to UTSA students, local area college and high school students, and community members.Student Union, Retama Galleria (SU First Floor Corridor), Main Campus
An FBI subject matter expert will discuss the threat to U.S. technology and public sector from foreign adversaries, specific technologies sought and vectors used to illicitly obtain them, how to best safeguard intellectual property.Durango Building (DB 2.112A), Downtown Campus
Why just leap when you can dash? The Alumni Association’s 36th annual Diploma Dash 5K and City Championship is a great opportunity to run or walk for a great cause: scholarships for UTSA students.Main Campus
Students are encouraged to attend to obtain important information about Spring Commencement and life after UTSA. Graduating students can order their cap and gown and other items, win prizes and capture lasting memories with fellow Roadrunners at a selfie station. Participants should take a UTSA student ID for entry.H-E-B Student Union, Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
UTSA’s first Wellbeing Fair is a part of the President’s Initiative of Enriching Campus Wellbeing. UTSA is committed to the well-being of each member of the campus community and recognizes that numerous factors contribute to overall wellness: physical and mental health, diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care, social behaviors and more. The fair will give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in well-being activities, obtain well-being information and learn about available services. Participants will become more competent in making healthy decisions to take a more proactive approach in their own well-being.Paseo Principal, Student Union, Main Campus
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