How Gratitude Can Help You Sleep Better

When we think about our health, we think in terms of what we’re eating, what we’re drinking, how much we’re exercising — but we rarely think about our health being related to what we think about.

See, when we get stuck in cycles of negative thinking, obsessing over our problems and what’s going wrong, it kickstarts the body’s stress response. Hormones like cortisol go into overdrive, making it incredibly difficult to relax. Gratitude, on the other hand, has the opposite effect – it soothes the sympathetic nervous system while triggering a biochemical chain reaction that helps us unwind.

Studies show the simple act of counting one’s blessings leads to improved sleep quality and duration, getting to the restorative rapid-eye movement (REM) stage faster. Rather than ruminating on existential worries or intrusive thoughts, your mind is occupied by positive feelings of appreciation. In turn, your body can more easily initiate its natural sleep-wake cycle.

My personal gratitude ritual involves journaling for 5-10 minutes before bed each night. As I reflect on things I’m thankful for big and small – from quality family time to modern creature comforts – I can literally feel the tension melting away. I’m no longer consumed by what’s going wrong, but instead have readjusted my focus to all the good in my life.

The benefits of gratitude don’t stop at improved sleep – it’s been shown to boost overall wellbeing and relationships too. But I’d argue its impact on hard-earned, high-quality rest is the biggest game-changer. Because without sleep, it’s pretty tough to find gratefulness in anything.

So if maximizing your zzz’s has been an uphill battle of late, try firing up a gratitude ritual. Whether it’s old-school journaling or just a quiet mindset shift each night, feeling appreciative has a beautiful way of melting away the tension – mental and physical – that so often obstructs sublime slumber.

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