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Older, wiser and happier, study finds

Published on 13 March 2012 10:00 AM

Whether it's because we feel comfortable in our own skin or put less pressure on ourselves professionally, it seems we get happier as we grow older.

According to a study from the University of Warwick, our mental satisfaction increases after middle age, despite physical quality of life going down.

Dr Saverio Stranges, who led the study at Warwick medical school, said: 'It's obvious that people's physical quality of life deteriorates as they age, but what is interesting is that their mental well-being doesn't also deteriorate - in fact it increases.

'We suggest that this could be due to better coping abilities, an interpretation supported by previous research showing older people tend to have internal mechanisms to deal better with hardship or negative circumstances than those who are younger.'

Dr Stranges, who led the study alongside Dr Kandala Ngianga-Bakwin, added: 'It could also be due to a lowering of expectations from life, with older people less likely to put pressure on themselves in the personal and professional spheres.'

Getting the right amount of regenerative sleep was also found to play a part. Those who snoozed for between six and eight hours per day tended to have better physical and mental health scores than those who slept on average for fewer than six or, interestingly, more than eight hours.

Researchers analysed the lifestyle and health patterns of more than 10,000 people in Britain and the US, and their links to mental and physical quality of life and health status.

Eight factors were considered in a bid to evaluate quality of life, including mental health, social functioning, general health and pain.

The findings back a previous report which suggests we hit our low point at around age 45, then bounce back and start to feel increasingly happy in the years following.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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