Gratitude and a Great Night’s Sleep
Depression and anxiety arise when we internalize and personalize negativity, and ruminate over the negative comments or actions of others. Consequences are a fact of life, and in order to lead happier lives, it is necessary for us to separate ourselves from the opinions and judgments of others, which are not necessarily personal indictments against our character. Expressing gratitude can help train our minds to think happy thoughts, and refocus our energy on the positive.
However, saying thank you and giving a voice to the things that we are thankful for improves our mental and emotional well-being. Studies have also found that expressing gratitude helps us sleep longer and better. Having a good night’s sleep reduces levels of anxiety and improves our mood – creating a cycle of positivity that significantly influences our way of life.
Grateful thoughts and good sleep
Several studies have investigated the connection between grateful thoughts and getting a good night’s sleep.
A recent study conducted by Professor Nancy Digdon and published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, asked students to write in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes every evening. Digdon observed that after writing in these journals, students worried less at bedtime and slept longer.
In a separate study led by psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullogh, participants with neuromuscular disorders were asked to make nightly lists of the things that they were grateful for. After three weeks, they reported getting longer and better sleep.
Researchers at the University of Manchester in England had 400 adults, 40 percent with reported sleeping disorders, complete a questionnaire about gratitude, sleep, and pre-sleep thoughts. Gratitude was linked to more positive thoughts at bedtime, and associated with longer and more restful sleep.
Thinking positive thoughts before bed reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increases the length of our sleep, and improves our sleep quality.
People often lay awake at night dwelling on the negative and ruminating over each day’s challenges. This can increase anxiety and prevent us from falling asleep. When we think happy thoughts we worry less, we focus our energy on the positive, and feel less anxious before bed.
Why does good sleep matter?
Getting a good night’s sleep directly impacts our ability to approach each day with energy and positivity, and prepares us to tackle the daily challenges that life throws our way. It can even reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A group of researchers from China explored the connection between gratitude, sleep quality, and symptoms of depression. They found that higher levels of gratitude were not only linked to better sleep, but also associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. Although saying thank you doesn’t always feel like much, when we express gratitude we’re cultivating an optimistic outlook on life. This optimism keeps our anxiety at bay, and leaves us feeling prepared to overcome obstacles and face adversity.
Lying silently in bed, we are often more likely to dwell on bad situations. When we remind ourselves to be thankful in the evening, we’re more likely to fall asleep peacefully, and wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Now those are reasons to be thankful!