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Do People Get Happier with Age?

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report. Do people get happier with age? If you said "Yes," then you were right. A recent study found that people generally become happier and worry less after the age of 50. A team at Stony Brook University in New York asked people between the ages of 18 and 85 about their happiness.

The researchers found that levels of stress were highest in adults between the ages of 22 and 25. Stress levels dropped sharply after people reached their 50s. Happiness was highest among the youngest adults and those in their early 70s. But those least likely to report feeling negative emotions were the oldest ones.

The study also found that men and women have similar emotional patterns as they grow older. But women of all ages reported more sadness, stress and worry than men. The researchers also considered possible influences like having young children, being unemployed or being single. But they found that these situations did not affect the levels of happiness and well-being related to age. So why would happiness increase with age? One theory is that, as people get older, they become more thankful for what they have and have better control of their emotions. They also spend less time thinking about bad experiences.

Happiness is not the only thing that seems to improve with age. Another study found that people in their 80s reported the fewest problems with their sleep. Researchers had expected to confirm the popular belief that sleep problems are connected to aging. The survey found an increase in sleep problems during middle age, especially in women. But overall, people reported that they felt their sleep quality improved with age.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2013)