Saying thank you for a good night’s sleep

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According to researchers in a 2009 study conducted at the School of Psychology in Manchester, England, daytime personality traits such as neuroticism, anxiety, anger, and stress, negatively impact one’s quality of sleep. Conversely, positive personality traits, like expression of gratitude, can improve the quality of sleep.

People who fall asleep focusing on gratitude, the study says, sleep better and longer, and have a more positive outlook in the morning.

What do you have to lose? Go to sleep thankful.

Ten Wonderful Things

In my book Joy in Every Moment I suggest a variety of a simple gratitude practices. This is my favorite bedtime gratitude practice:

  • As you fall asleep think of 10 Wonderful Things about the day that just passed.
  • Be sure to look for small wonderful details, in addition to the big ticket items. You can feel just as grateful for the sight of a hummingbird hovering above the bird feeder outside your window as you can about getting a promotion at work.
  • As you think of each Wonderful Thing, re-experience it in your imagination, calling to mind all of the sensory details of the experience (taste, smell, sounds, texture, visual details, etc.)
  • Hold each experience in your mind for the length of several gentle, relaxed breaths.
  • Feel your heart fill with gratitude as you recall each of these wonderful moments.

From now on, rather than counting sheep, use this practice to count your blessings as you drift into sleep.

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Citation:
Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Wood AM, Joseph S, Lloyd J, Atkins S. School of Psychology, University of Manchester, Manchester, England, UK. 2009. alex.wood@manchester.ac.uk; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19073292