It’s often said that money doesn’t bring happiness – but researchers may have found the two things that do. A study has found that sex and sleep are the two things that have the strongest association with a person’s wellbeing.

The index, developed by researchers Oxford Economics, found that quadrupling your income causes very little increase to your happiness, while spending time in the bedroom is a lot more significant.

Polling carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, found that the most rested people score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggled with their sleep.

People who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives score seven points lower on average than those who say they were very satisfied.

By the same metric, increasing household income from £12,500 to £50,000 results in an increase of just two points.

The study, commissioned by Sainsbury’s, will return to the same respondents every six months to see how changes in their lives affect their happiness.

“For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the Index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income,” the report said, adding that sleep was the “strongest indicator of a broader sense of wellbeing”.

Other factors including living in a strong community, job security and the health of close relatives were also more significant than income.

Ian Mulheirn, director of consulting at Oxford Economics, said: “The richness of our relationships and support networks remains among the biggest determinants of how well we live – and represents an area of our lives in which we can act.”

The analysis also found that young families were the happiest demographic group overall. There was a strong association between happiness and having a young child at home.

“Baby boomers” who were still in work were the second-happiest group because of good job security and a high standard of living.

Child-free people in their 30s and 40s were the least happy because they have “weaker support networks” and lower levels of satisfaction with their sex lives, it said.

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