A new study of 1,100 young adults who were surveyed found that those who slept well, did more exercise and ate better were more likely to be flourishing mentally. Out of these, quality sleep was most strongly linked to better mental health, followed by exercise and then diet.

The study found that both too little sleep — less than eight hours — and too much sleep — more than 12 hours — were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health and well-being. This suggests that sleep quality should be promoted alongside sleep quantity as tools for improving mental health and well-being. The study’s results showed that those who slept an average of 8 hours had the highest mental well-being.

Diet also plays an important role in mental health. Those who ate 5 servings of raw fruit and vegetables per day had the highest mental-wellbeing and those who ate less than 2 servings each day had the worst.

Sleep, physical activity and a healthy diet can be thought of as three pillars of health, which could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults, a population where the prevalence of mental disorders is high and well-being is suboptimal.