This Simple Habit Before Falling Asleep Can Boost Your Mood Long-Term

Is it just us, or does navigating daily life feel like it's getting trickier? There's so much to do, so much to worry about, so much that feels out of our control. It can be overwhelming and sometimes feel like a struggle just to keep your head above water. Luckily though, we as a society have begun leaning into meditation — a technique intended to bring on a heightened state of awareness or focused attention (per Verywellmind.)

There are actually more than a few ways to meditate, so if you once tried mindfulness meditation and found that it didn't do it for you, perhaps a mantra meditation is more your speed. One type of meditation that is doing people a world of good is the practice of gratitude. Surely, you're familiar with gratitude as a concept, but what does it mean to meditate with gratitude? And what happens when you do that right before falling asleep?

Why practice gratitude before bed?

Gratitude meditation is the practice of reflecting on those things in our lives for which we're grateful. Whether it's the companionship of a beloved pet, or a really good cup of coffee, taking the time to appreciate what's in our lives can make us generally happier. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a renowned scholar on the science of gratitude, told Headspace that feeling gratitude reduces anxiety and feelings of isolation because it yanks us out from under the blanket of self-centeredness, and feeds the soul rather than the ego.

When speaking on the Mindbodygreen podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatric neuroscientist, revealed that he refers to this practice as treasure hunting. When he practices gratitude meditation, he says he runs through the events of his day and finds something — any little thing — that made him feel good, and then he focuses his attention on that. While you can do this practice any time during the day for a little boost, Dr. Amen says that doing it right before bedtime can make your dreams more positive which, in turn, means you'll wake up happier. A study published in Psychology of Consciousness backs up his claim that meditation before falling asleep can improve your dream state.

Tips for your gratitude practice

If starting your own gratitude practice feels a little daunting, there are plenty of resources to help with just that. Meditation apps can take the pressure off with guided meditations. All you have to do is find a quiet place, get comfortable, and hit play.

One of the easiest ways you can make a habit out of practicing gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Simply keep a notebook by your bed and jot down a few words of appreciation about your day before turning out the light. Apps like Gratitude to Bliss provide daily writing prompts that encourage you to look at gratitude from new angles. You can type out your responses in the app, or you can scribble them down in your own journal. The important thing is that you note your gratitude. Sweet dreams!