Gratitude: Sleep on It

Why a good night’s sleep makes you a better person

Now, I lay me down to sleep . . . and if I sleep well, I will be more grateful to others in my life (especially my spouse) and therefore feel better about myself and my relationships. So says new research published by Amie Gordon and Serena Chen, psychologists from the University of California at Berkeley.

That a good night’s sleep promotes physical well-being has long been known; but these studies, which look at “prosocial” behaviors, such as expressing gratitude and giving to others, reveal the psychological benefits some solid sack time can yield as well.

One study asked participants to list five things in their lives for which they were grateful. By adapting the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the scientists learned that people who did not get a good night’s sleep felt less gratitude than those who did.

A second study asked research subjects to document their sleep for two weeks along with their feelings of gratitude. The findings: Less sleep equals more selfishness and less gratitude.

Other studies, such as the one by Brant Hasler at the University of Arizona, back up the claim. And, Hasler’s study shows, it cuts both ways for men and women. In men, the better they slept, the better they felt their relationships went the following day. Women noticed if they were having negative interactions with their partners, it was because one or both of them slept poorly the night before.

In other words, grouchiness from lack of sleep is contagious. "Poor sleep is not just experienced in isolation," Gordon said. "Instead, it influences our interactions with others, such as our ability to be grateful, a vital social emotion."



First-Time Moms' Exhaustion Caused By Sleep Fragmentation, Rather Than Timing Of Sleep,” 6/09; “Poor Sleep Is Associated With Lower Relationship Satisfaction In Both Women And Men,” 6/09; “Surprising Connections Between Our Well-Being and Giving, Getting, and Gratitude,” 1/21/13,

"The Differential Effects of Gratitude and Sleep on Psychological Distress . . ." by M. Y. Ng and W. S. Wong, J Health Psychol, 3/12/12


Why New Moms Are Exhausted

Four plus four may always be eight, but research shows us that new moms are exhausted not so much by the lack of sleep as they are by fragmented, or interrupted, sleep.

Megan Clegg-Kraynok, MS, and Hawley Montgomery-Downs, PhD, of West Virginia University found that new mothers tend to go to sleep and awaken at the same times they did before having a child. What’s different, the scientists say, is that a mother’s sleep is often interrupted, and that’s what makes for mommies who are perpetually pooped out.

5 Amazing Benefits of Sleep

If you do it right (7-8 uninterrupted hours per night), sleep can do some amazing things for you, including:

  • Improved memory
  • Better concentration
  • Longer life
  • More creativity
  • Better athletic performance