Good sleep fosters well being, gratitude

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 20, 2013 12:00 hrs

Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) A good night's sleep fosters general health and well-being but now a new study highlights a more surprising outome - greater feelings of gratitude.

Social psychologists are finding that "prosocial" behaviour, expressing gratitude and giving to others, is key to our psychological well-being. Even how we choose to spend our money on purchases affects our health and happiness.

"A plethora of research highlights the importance of getting a good night's sleep for physical and psychological well-being, yet in our society, people still seem to take pride in needing and getting, little sleep," says study co-author Amie Gordon of the University of California - Berkeley, US.

"And in the past, research has shown that gratitude promotes good sleep, but our research looks at the link in the other direction and, to our knowledge, is the first to show that everyday experiences of poor sleep are negatively associated with gratitude toward others -- an important emotion that helps form and maintain close social bonds," adds Gordon.

In three new studies, Gordon and Serena Chen, also of University of California - Berkeley, explored how poor sleep affects people's feelings of gratitude, according to an UC-B statement.

In the first study, people who experienced a poor night's sleep were less grateful after listing five things in life for which they were appreciative than were people who had slept well the night before.

In the second study, participants recorded their sleep from the previous night for two weeks and their feelings of gratitude. The researchers found a decline in gratitude linked with poor sleep, and those participants reported feeling more selfish those days.

The final study looked at heterosexual couples and found that people tend to feel less grateful toward their romantic partners if either they or their partners generally sleep poorly.

"In line with this finding, people reported feeling less appreciated by their partners if they or their partner tends to sleep poorly, suggesting that the lack of gratitude is transmitted to the partner," Gordon says.

Just as expressing gratitude confers benefits, so too does giving to others. New research shows that people all around the world, from Canada to Uganda, from South Africa to India derive more happiness from spending money on others than they do on themselves.

Gordon and other researchers presented some of these findings at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) annual meeting in New Orleans.

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