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The results? Studies suggest that a positive mindset and gratitude make us happier and more successful, improve our relationships with others, enhance longevity, and even boost the immune system.
But what happens when we shortchange ourselves and get less rest than we need?
Does a bad night of sleep influence our ability to feel grateful? Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley say, “Yes.”
One recent study had volunteers make a list of five things that they were appreciative of. Using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, those who experienced a poor night’s sleep were less grateful than those who were well rested!
In a second study, volunteers recorded sleep quality for two weeks as well as their feelings of gratitude.
Researchers found that those who slept poorly reported feeling more selfish, less grateful, and less valued by their spouse.
Aime Gordon, studying at the University of California, Berkeley, explains that, “Poor sleep is not just experienced in isolation…it influences our interactions with others, such as our ability to be grateful.”
Get to bed early. Your body’s level of melatonin–a hormone that helps generate that sleepy feeling–peaks between midnight and 1 a.m. Melatonin also protects against cancer and influences other hormones, like estrogen. The best time to fall asleep is shortly after the sun goes down—if that’s still too early for you, shoot for sometime between 9 pm – 10 pm.
Sleep in your bed. This may sound obvious, but many people fall asleep on the couch while watching television. Keep TV and work-related projects out of the bedroom and resist the temptation to cozy up on the couch and watch one last late-night program.
Relax. One reason why many of us turn towards television after work or before bed is because TV programs distract the mind. In other words, we get a break from our day-to-day thoughts! If you find that you need a distraction in order to rest, you may want to investigate relaxation techniques like mindful breathing or meditation.
Just say, “No”—To sugar, cigarettes, coffee, and late night snacks. These things kick up cortisol levels (a stress hormone) unnaturally and affect blood sugar. When cortisol shoots up, the body can only sustain this surge for so long before it drops again. Over time, cortisol surges cause the body to lose important minerals and become overly acidic.
Tune into the seasons. The winter season means shorter days and longer nights. While this may mean that you leave more on your to-do list undone, remember that we, like nature, run in cycles and that when it comes to health and happiness, nothing beats balance.
Each night, allow your body the time that it needs to fully rest and recharge. You will feel more valued by those that you love, and you will love them just little bit more!
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