Self-compassion enhances sleep

Over two-thirds of university students fail to get sufficient quality sleep, according to self-reports, with knock-on negative effects on cognitive functioning and mental health.

Many factors increase the risk of high stress and self-blame for poor academic performance, leading to anxiety, depression and poor sleep quality, various studies have shown. So researchers decided to test out whether self-compassion, defined as a way of relating to oneself with kindness and understanding in difficult times, improves sleep quality.

Nearly 200 students at the University of Manitoba completed a number of questionnaires, including a self-compassion scale, which measured, self-kindness, self-judgement, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness and over-identification; a sleep-quality scale, which measured subjective sleep quality, time taken to fall asleep, sleep duration and so forth; proactive attitude to health; and use of cognitive emotional regulation (both negative and positive strategies such as self-blame, acceptance, rumination, positive refocusing, catastrophising, positive reappraisal, etc).

The researchers found that those with higher self-compassion had better sleep quality, particularly through its association with less self-blame. Those who were less self-blaming were also less likely to resort to other unhelpful cognitive strategies when under stress.


Semenchuk, B N, Onchulenko, S and Strachan, S M (2021). Self-compassion and sleep quality: examining the mediating role of taking a proactive health focus and cognitive emotional regulation strategies. Journal of Health Psychology, doi: 10.1177/13591053211047148)

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