Purpose in life has been linked with better mental health, physical health, and health behaviors, but the association between purpose and sleep is understudied. Sleep disturbances increase with age and as the number of older adults rapidly increases, it is ever more important to identify modifiable factors that are associated with reduced incidence of sleep disturbances. We used multiple logistic regression models and data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50, to examine whether higher purpose was linked with a reduced incidence of sleep disturbances. Among 4144 respondents reporting minimal or no sleep disturbances at baseline, higher purpose was associated with a lower incidence of sleep disturbances over the 4-year follow-up. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each unit increase in purpose (on a six-point scale) was associated with a 16 % reduced odds of developing sleep disturbances (OR 0.84, 95 % CI 0.77-0.92). The association between purpose and sleep disturbances remained after adjusting for sociodemographic, behavioral, psychological, and health covariates. Should future research replicate our findings, this area of research may lead to innovative efforts that improve the quality of sleep in older adults.