By now you’ve probably heard of the idea that having more time is a good thing for you, or that it makes you happier.
And it’s definitely true that having fewer hours can help you feel better.
In fact, the evidence is there.
In a recent paper, researchers from the University of Southern California and Harvard Medical School analyzed more than 5,000 studies published between 2002 and 2013.
The researchers found that people who spend more time spending time with friends and family have higher levels of happiness.
“I think it’s a pretty straightforward thing,” said lead author Jennifer Reiter, a doctoral student in psychology at the University at Buffalo.
“When we have a job, we want to spend more and spend more of our time with family, and we want more of a relationship with others.”
The researchers focused on people who were in their twenties and older and who reported having an average of 16 hours of sleep per night.
They also asked participants to rate their happiness with each of the four dimensions of their lives: health, relationships, finances and spirituality.
People with less time spent with friends, on the other hand, were less satisfied.
So what’s going on here?
Why do people who are tired and stressed feel more happy?
Well, the researchers found, this isn’t due to sleep deprivation, but rather to being stressed about one or more of the other dimensions of happiness—the quality of relationships or finances.
The idea that people with more time spent in one aspect of their life may be better at coping with stress is a common one.
In their paper, the authors wrote, “There is some evidence that stress is associated with increased levels of positive emotions.”
But the researchers also found evidence that a more balanced approach to happiness is better.
For example, they found that when people with less sleep reported feeling more positive emotions, they also had more positive attitudes towards life.
They concluded that, “The balance of negative and positive emotions in a life can be helpful for a healthy life, even when it may be challenging.”
This may seem like a logical implication: when stress is stressful, we’re more likely to feel stressed and less positive than when we have less stress.
However, when we take the time to be mindful about our emotions and manage our stress levels, our life may actually improve.
If we can manage our negative emotions and focus on being more positive, we can be more satisfied with our lives, the study authors wrote.
This might be especially true for those of us who are in our twenties and above, because it means we can start to see the benefits of having more free time.
In one study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health asked volunteers to fill out surveys about their lives.
Some were asked to rate the overall quality of their relationships, their finances, spirituality, health and well-being.
They then answered the same questionnaires a month later.
“We found that there was a significant difference between the groups, as people who had less time with their friends, had higher levels [of happiness],” said Reiter.
In other words, if you’re in your twenties and have a relationship where you’re both focused on having a good relationship, you may actually be happier.
The authors wrote that people in their 30s and older were more likely than people in other ages groups to report having a positive relationship, while those in their 40s and 50s reported being more satisfied.
And even those in the 50s and 60s reported feeling less stressed, Reiter said.
“This is not necessarily a positive thing, as you may have noticed, but it does suggest that when we think about the negative aspects of our lives that we’re dealing with, it may help us to feel more confident in our relationships,” Reiter added.
It may be that people experiencing more time in the bedroom can be happier because they’re more aware of their own emotional well-beings, or they may feel more comfortable and confident around their partner.
“It could be that having sex with someone is good for you,” said Reiver.
And the researchers did find that having time to spend with family and friends can also be good for your health, as it can boost your immune system and boost your metabolism.
“What I’m seeing is a relationship between the quality of your relationships and how well you’re doing with your physical well-ness,” said Deirdre Schafer, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University.
In the study, participants were asked how many hours of sex they had had during the previous month, how many times per week they were having sex, and how much they were willing to pay to have sex.
“You can’t have it both ways,” said Schafer.
“If you’re spending more time with your friends and spending less time, that’s bad.
If you’re going to have it, you should be able to do it with them.”