Approximately 64% of people in the general population have a sleep problem at least a few nights a week, with 41% reporting problems every night or almost every night (National Sleep Foundation [NSF], 2009). These sleep problems can negatively affect one’s daily activities. Work performance usually decreases due to frequent absenteeism, lower job satisfaction, decreased motivation and concentration, and work-related injuries (Drake, Roehrs, & Roth, 2003; Leger, Guilleminault, Bader, Levy, & Paillard, 2002; Scott & Judge, 2006). Furthermore, sleep problems can lead to physical maladies such as headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances (Sateia & Nowell, 2004; Thase, 2005).
It can also be noted that when sleep problems occur, sleep quality is negatively affected. Understanding and measuring sleep quality is important since low sleep quality can tremendously impact an individual’s quality of life. Sleep quality is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to define. However, most researchers agree that sleep quality includes quantitative aspects of sleep, such as sleep duration and sleep latency, along with more subjective aspects, such as depth of sleep (Buysse, 1989). Ultimately, compared to their better sleeping counterparts, people with low sleep quality are less likely to work well and efficiently, exercise, eat healthy, and in engage in leisure activities (NSF, 2009). Additionally, while low sleep quality affects one’s physical health, forgiveness has also been shown to be related to physical health.
In fact, research indicates a significant correlation between forgiveness and physical health. In one study conducted by Witviliet, Ludwig, and Vander Lann (2001), differences in the sympathetic nervous system were observed while participants produced forgiving and unforgiving thoughts. During the unforgiving imagery trials, participants exhibited negative emotions and arousal in the sympathetic nervous systems. However, participants in the forgiving imagery trials, exhibited higher levels of emotion and less psychological stress. Another study looked at the relationship between dispositional forgiveness and blood pressure. Lower trait forgiveness was associated with higher blood viscosity, which results in high blood pressure (Seibold, 2001).
In examining the relationship between forgiveness and health, the meaning of forgiveness must be established. First, an event must occur, which forces people to grapple with information that clashes with their assumptions about how they, other people, or the world should be. It may be very difficult to resolve these differences, resulting in profound distress and dissonance (Janoff-Bulman, 1992; Janoff-Bulman & Frantz, 1997). Moreover, as people experience these events or transgressions, the typical response is negative behaviors, thoughts, and feelings directed at the transgressor or transgression (Thompson et al., 2005). On the other hand, people may choose to respond to a...