The weirdest thing happened after my youngest child started sleeping through the night. I found out I couldn’t sleep through the night. I’d wake up around three a.m. with all sorts of things to think and worry about. Those of you who do this know what I’m talking about. Usually, I would wake up the next morning and think, “Why did I spend an hour last night worrying about that?”
Gradually, I came to acknowledge that I have a slight case of anxiety. It never bothers me during the day—only at three a.m.. I’ve talked to doctors and specialists who recommended different approaches. I tried journaling and supplements. Nothing made that big of a difference.
Then, one day, I read a magazine article about improving your sleep. The article cited a study that showed that people who kept a gratitude journal slept better than those who didn’t. Study participants wrote down five things for which they were grateful before they went to sleep. I thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt to try.”
I have now been keeping a gratitude journal for six months. Most nights I write down five things for which I’m grateful. It hasn’t been a miracle solution, but it has significantly improved my sleep. When I wake up at three a.m. now, I’m much less likely to stay awake worrying. Keeping a gratitude journal has also helped me to feel more optimistic about life in general.
Here's what I've learned about keeping a gratitude journal:
- You have to write it down. For some reason, the process of writing makes it work better than just talking or praying about it.
- It works better if I come up with an original list each day.
- I must write just before I go to sleep.