Laughing could help people sleep better because it encourages the body to produce melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles, research suggests. Researchers analyzed the levels of melatonin in the breast milk of nursing mothers and found that more melatonin was present in the breast milk of participants who had viewed a comedy movie than in the breast milk of women who had viewed an informational weather program. It is not known why laughter helps with melatonin production, but researchers believe it might be because laughter decreases stress levels.
More about the benefits of laughter:
- The first research on the health benefits of laughter was by Norman Cousins, who suffered from the spine condition ankylosing sodalities, in 1979 when he wrote in his autobiography that he used laughter as medicine. He claimed that 10 minutes of laughter reduced his pain and helped him sleep for two hours.
- Research found that blood sugar levels were lower in diabetics who laughed after a meal than in those who did not.
- Laughing 100 times is estimated to burn the same number of calories as spending 15 minutes pedaling on a stationary exercise bicycle.