Trouble Sleeping? Sprinkle a Little Gratitude into Your Life

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May You Wake With Gratitude

Here in Canada, we are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to get all nerdy on you and present some pretty great reasons to start infusing gratitude in your life.

The land that Canada is on was originally occupied, and cared for beautifully, by indigenous people. Since this land was taken over without negotiation, we Canadians could at least be grateful for the life that this land has given us. There is nothing worse that first world problem whining in a land of such prosperity. Ok, said my piece on why gratitude should be a given, but since it still seems to be a difficult task to master, let me tell you what a attitude of gratitude can do for your nocturnal angst.

Often the reason why people have difficulty getting to sleep, and sometimes remaining asleep, is what you think before you go to bed. Scared, fearful, anxious, freakout out thoughts keep you in a state of “fight or flight” in your brain. Seriously! Your brain kinda needs you to be alert if you are gonna use your fists or your legs to run away. So, my suggestion is to do the following:

Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude.png

Brain Nerd

Sleepy PsychNerd

There are some pretty smart, researchers at the University of Manchester in England who looked at how gratitude might affect people’s snooze time. Their study included over 400 adults of all ages, even some with diagnosed sleep disorders. They asked these folks to complete questionnaires about gratitude, sleep and pre-sleep thoughts, and these people provided some pretty cool information that resulted in the data being smooshed into patterns and trends that showed that gratitude was related to having more positive thoughts, and fewer negative ones, at bedtime. What this means is that gratitude leads to dozing off faster and sleeping longer and better.

Study Results

*With nerdspeak translations

Gratitude was uniquely related to:

  • Total Sleep Quality: multiple measures of how you slept such as brain waves, duration, self-report of how you slept, etc.
  • Subjective Sleep Quality: how you thought you slept
  • Sleep Latency: fancy word, in sleep science, for the length of time that it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep.
  • Sleep Duration: how long you slept as observed by sleep scientists.
  • Daytime Dysfunction: your amount of sleep mixed in with how well you function during the day.


Practicing Gratitude

Here is an awesome resource, with a free APP :), to get you started on the magical infusion of gratitude in your life.

UNSTUCK: A Practical Guide to Gratitude

You can even get weekly free tips sent right to your email. Seriously, stop whining and start noticing what is going well in your life and you will start to sleep better (an then be less whiny). Even I get whiny at times, but I really try hard to balance my negative thinking with expanding my life view by forcing myself to also see what is going well. Trust me, it works 🙂


Sleep Strategies

Surround your gratitude with healthy sleep habits.


I wish you all a weekend of getting some gratitude swirling around your brain . This is the first step to better snoozing’ 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success



Wood A.M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 66  43–48

SLEEP! Why Have You Abandoned Me?!?!

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Need More Sleep?

Does this Sound Like Your Bedtime Wind Down Routine?

  • I love to replay some of the events of the day in my head.
  • I use the time before bed to mull over all the “what ifs” in my life.
  • I practice all the things I want to say to people.
  • I use this time wisely and plan and plan and plan my next day.
  • I sometimes think of all the people I miss terribly and feel sad.
  • I love to run through all the people in my life that I hate and why I hate them.
  • It is fun to act like a detective and ask a LOT of questions in my head.

Do you then wonder…

“Why am I still awake??!?!”

Hmmm…me thinks that you may be revving up your brain and kicking it into high gear conveniently before you want it to calm down and chill out.

Why Sleep is Important to Your Brain Function

As you slip into the grip of lacking proper sleep, your brain starts to conserve energy and start limiting functions by focusing on the areas that help you not die, like breathing. While breathing is good and all, being a human in the world where you have responsibilities like work, school, family, etc. you need to do more than just survive.

A Wee Brain Lesson

….seriously it will be wee 😉

brain-and-sleepThese are areas of your brain that REALLY need you to sleep.  Seriously, they are begging you…pahleeese SLEEEEP!

Here they are:


The Neocortex: Now this big fleshy new part of the human brain is the control center for memory and learning in general. Treat it well or you will learn nothing and forget everything 😉

The Frontal Lobe: When this lobe is lumbering your creativity, imagination and general ability to focus takes a nose dive. You can find yourself completely unable to come up with solutions to your problems or even see any alternatives. You don’t even know where to start on assignments and tasks.

The Temporal Lobe: When you stop sleeping your mouth literally stops working. It has no idea what to say. This lovely lobe helps you organize your language and gives you the ability to even say something like “Help! Please help me to learn how to manage my stress and learn strategies to help me sleeping better”.

Parietal Lobe: You need this logical lobe working so that you can solve problems and have higher functioning thought processes. When this lobe is well rested, life seems manageable because your Thinking/Reasonable Mind is blending well with your Emotional Mind and it allows your Wise Mind to shine through.

The Prefrontal Cortex: This is the last area in the human brain to develop, which explains a great deal about why the adolescent and adult understanding of world often seem to be at odds 😉 This is your “voice of reason”, your judgement center, your ability to visualize, select and create plans of action in your life that lead to beneficial outcomes. Treat this area very well if you want to stop making massive mistakes.


I know this was super PsychNerdy, but I think that it is important to have a basic understanding of how your beautiful brain works. Seriously, all you need to do is just treat it well and you will feel better, function better and do better in everything.

So I feel like I have got your attention! Ready to treat your brain better?!?!

Sleep Strategy

I will distill it down to a simple plan for getting some shuteye. You need a ROUTINE that sends a signal to your brain that you are ready to slip away into dreamland.

Three steps to consider:

  1. Wind Down: Start preparing for sleep a 1/2 hour before you go to bed.
  2. Use Strategies: Try strategies that encourage sleep (see list below)
  3. Manage Your Thoughts: Shut down your thoughts.  Use strategies that help you to manage your anxiety/worry.

Sleep Music.png

*I have given your my favourite sleep music. It works for me EVERY time, even when my thoughts seem to be out of control. Try it out, but remember that it takes at least 14 days to build a habit, so keep trying 🙂

Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep

Want to buy this? iTunes: Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep

Sleep Hacks

Here are 20 strategies to try that are scientifically proven to get you sleeping and make your brain happy and function well. Please give them a try!



Stop reading this and get to bed!!!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success