(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.
Through the month of February, the UTSA community is invited to join student organizations, colleges and departments at events that commemorate the African American people, places and events that have paved the way for racial equality.Various locations
Basura Bash is a one-day, all-volunteer event to clean the San Antonio Watershed. For the past 24 years volunteers have cleaned area waterways. Join the UTSA community for the 25th Annual Basura Bash Waterways Cleanup.Maverick Creek, near Brackenridge Ave. Lot 5, Main Campus
UTSA Day is an Open House and one of the best ways to see what it is like to be part of the UTSA Family! Schedule a visit the way you want, based on your interests and time. Learn more about the next steps on becoming a Roadrunner!Various locations, Main Campus
The President, Academic Affairs and Office of VP for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise launch a series of lectures by prominent Academy Fellows who will visit campus throughout our 50th anniversary year. In this series, C. Mohan will speak on the state of public and private blockchains.John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy will hold a series of forums to discuss and answer questions about the new Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative for 2020. All UTSA faculty and staff are welcome.John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy will hold a series of forums to discuss and answer questions about the new Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative for 2020. All UTSA faculty and staff are welcome.Buena Vista Street Building Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
Representatives from companies across the nation will discuss potential full-time job and/or internship opportunities available to STEM majors.Convocation Center, Main Campus
Representatives from companies across the nation will discuss potential full-time job and/or internship opportunities available to all majors.Convocation Center, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.