Anyone can benefit from being in a state of gratitude, especially when better sleep is one of the rewards. In this well written article, Dr. Carol Solomon shares her wisdom on this subject.
She says, “Practicing gratitude has been shown to enhance health and wellbeing. In research studies, people who are asked to incorporate a daily gratitude practice report fewer health complaints and fewer symptoms of physical illness. They feel more joyful, optimistic, connected to others, and more positive about their lives as a whole.”
By Carol Solomon, Ph.D.
Sometimes I have difficulty sleeping, either waking up in the middle of the night or early in the morning and I can’t get back to sleep. My mind is racing. I am either trying to solve a problem or I am so excited about a project I am working on, that the details are swirling in my mind. When this happens (2-3 times per week), I feel sluggish and miserable the next day. I decided to create a practice to see if I could improve my sleep.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to enhance health and wellbeing. In research studies, people who are asked to incorporate a daily gratitude practice report fewer health complaints and fewer symptoms of physical illness. They feel more joyful, optimistic, connected to others, and more positive about their lives as a whole. Gratitude group participants exercise more (about 1.5 more hours per week), get more hours of sleep, spend less time awake and feel more refreshed in the morning. Perhaps this is why grateful individuals feel more vital and have fewer health problems. They get more sleep!
These research findings are critical, in that inadequate, disrupted sleep and poor sleep quality are highly associated with lower overall health and wellbeing. Sleep is a restorative process that affects every system in our bodies. Sleep-deprived individuals have higher levels of stress hormones and compromised immune systems.
While gratitude is one of my highest signature strengths, I still need to work to cultivate a deep and enduring grateful heart. I decided to combine EFT and gratitude. So, while I am watching TV at night, I start tapping during the commercials.
First, I do a general round for not being perfect. It’s a great reminder that we don’t have to be perfect, a great way to be kinder to ourselves, and a great way to start or end the day.
Even though I’m not perfect, I love and accept myself completely.
Even though I’m not perfect, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’ve made mistakes, I accept myself anyway.
EB: I’ve made mistakes
SE: I’m not perfect
UE: I’m not perfect
UN: It’s ok
CH: I’m not perfect
CB: It’s ok
UA: I accept myself anyway
TH: Even though I’m not perfect
Next, I use EFT to clear any specific stresses, setbacks, worries or emotional upsets from the day. I also tap on any mistakes I have made or any unresolved problems that could keep me awake at night.
Fear and anxiety tend to surface at night and can disrupt sleep. Personal burdens and perceived obstacles can also block grateful thoughts. EFT can be used to eliminate these concerns and any attitudes that are incompatible with a grateful disposition, such as pessimism, a focus on shortcomings, lack of confidence or an inability to admit that one is not self-sufficient.
Even though I feel worried about ___________, I love and accept myself.
Even though I’m not sure what to do….
Even though I’m not sure I am making the right decisions…
EB: I’m worried about making mistakes
SE: I’m not sure what to do about __________.
UE: I don’t know if I’m making the right decisions
UN: I don’t know how to solve it right now
CH: I don’t know if I have what it takes
CB: I feel anxious about making mistakes
UA: I don’t like not knowing what to do
TH: I’m worried about ___________.
If I don’t have a lot of worries that day, then I might do a round on my “shoulds.”
EB: I should be a better parent
SE: I should eat better
UE: I should exercise more
UN: I should be kinder to other people
CH: I should volunteer more of my time
CB: I should spend more time with my family
UA: I should support my friends more
TH: I should be more patient
Then I do rounds for what I am grateful for.
EB: I am grateful for my family
SE: I am grateful for my health
UE: I am grateful for my home
UN: I am grateful for my dog
CH: I am grateful for my work and the opportunity to serve people
CB: I am grateful for the contribution I have made in the lives of others
UA: I am grateful for the presence of God in my life
TH: I am grateful for the love of my friends
Research has shown that the good things in life are enjoyed even more when perceived as a gift. Gifts have givers, and gratitude can extend to the goodness of the giver. If the receiver acknowledges the giver behind the gift, they are likely to feel even more grateful. So I include the gifts and the giver behind the gift.
EB: I appreciate my parents for the gift of my life and the sacrifices they made
SE: I appreciate my husband for his love and support
UE: I appreciate the gift of being a parent (I’m an adoptive mom, so there was a very definite giver)
UN: I appreciate all of the opportunities I have been given to serve the world
CH: I appreciate my friends and the love I have received from them
CB: I appreciate my newsletter subscribers for the opportunity to help them
UA: I appreciate the presence of God in my life
TH: I appreciate the divine guidance I am receiving
Issues can be global or mundane. The important part is the regular practice of gratitude and acknowledgement of the blessings that one has received.
EB: I am grateful for my dinner
SE: I am grateful that my home is warm
UE: I am grateful that I have such a comfortable place to sleep
UN: I am grateful for my coffee in the morning
CH: I am grateful for the beauty of the flowers outside my window
CB: I am grateful that I can take a big, deep breath
UA: I am grateful that I have everything I need in this moment
TH: I am grateful that right now, I have enough
Then I add my wish list – things that I want, but haven’t yet received – just for fun. Grateful people tend to be happier and more content with life as it is. But that doesn’t mean we don’t wish for more sometimes. I stay very light about this, since I don’t want to dwell on what I don’t have. It’s simply thanking the universe in advance.
EB: I am grateful to be sleeping so soundly at night
SE: I am grateful for the steady growth in my business
UE: I am grateful for the opportunity to help thousands of people
UN: I am grateful for all that I am learning
CH: I am grateful for my abundance in health, love, time and money em>
CB: I am grateful that the exact resources I need are coming to me
UA: I am grateful for all of the prosperity in my life
TH: I am grateful for all of the ease and flow in my life
After 3 nights, I began sleeping soundly through the night without waking up. It surprised me that I also slept longer than usual. I would normally wake up between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. Now I often sleep until 6:30 or so. I find myself noticing and savoring positive experiences during the day, and looking for items to add to my EFT gratitude practice at night. In fact, when someone is kind to me, I tell them “you’ll be on my gratitude list tonight!”
The gifts of gratitude are many. Gratitude can counteract depression and help fight stress, the precursor of many serious diseases. Grateful people feel more connected to others, are more likely to protect and preserve their relationships, and are measurably happier and more pleasant to be around.
People who practice gratitude are better at achieving their goals, and have been shown to offer more help and support to others. Gratitude not only helps people feel good, but helps people do good as well.
No matter what issue we are facing, the research is very clear that we can benefit enormously by counting our blessings, instead of our burdens. EFT can eliminate the stresses that keep us awake at night and amplify the benefits of a gratitude practice. Either practice alone will help, but to me, this is an unbeatable combination. If we “tap in” our gratitude list, we (and the world) are far better off.
With love and gratitude,
Carol Solomon, Ph.D. MCC