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Practice Gratitude for Better Sleep


Give thanks, get more Zzzs  


By Brittany Doohan 


Want to sleep better? Shift your attitude to gratitude. In a pilot study conducted by the International Association of Applied Psychology, students who wrote in a gratitude journal every night worried less at bedtime and slept better and longer afterward. Even though the study was a small one, the tiny act of writing in a journal just may have a big impact on your sleep — and your health. No technology or prescriptions needed!

Why? Circling, worrisome and negative thoughts are some of the Sandman’s worst enemies. Anxiety and depression are major causes of insomnia. Practicing gratitude helps you remember the good things in life and keeps pessimism and worry at bay. In fact, according to an experimental comparison at the Emmons Psychology Lab at the University of California, Davis, people who kept weekly gratitude journals felt more optimistic about upcoming events than those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.

Ready to get started? Buy a notebook to keep by your nightstand. Every evening, write down three to five things you’re thankful for that day. You can also try this easy gratitude meditation from Jane P. Ehrman, a behavioral health specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute:

"Take two to three deep breaths to center yourself, then choose a positive feeling, connecting a person, place or thing to bring forth the good feelings," says Ehrman. "Really feel it! Breathe deeply, exhale, and imagine these good feelings resonating or radiating from your heart." Repeat this breathing three to four times to shift your mood and energy.

The next morning, you just may find you're thankful for yet another thing: a good night's sleep!


Published on April 15, 2016. 


Brittany Doohan is a health and lifestyle writer and editor living in San Francisco.

Reviewed by Shira Goldenholz, MD, MPH on April 14, 2016.
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