Thinking Positively Before Bed

Written By: Leslie Whittaker

We all know that sleep is important and has a significant impact on our waking lives.  Without it we have trouble concentrating, and can suffer impaired memory and mood swings.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to get to sleep because of anxiety about school, work, or emotional stress.  So, bring on the positive thinking!  Each night before you go to sleep, take a moment to think of and write down five positive things that happened to you or that you did over the day.  Positive thinking before bedtime is doubly advantageous: it decreases cortisol and increases serotonin which relieves stress and anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep AND it improves your outlook in the morning, which, among a handful of other benefits, improves cognitive functioning.1  Furthermore, writing things down is more effective and clarifying than simply thinking of them.2 |

While goal-setting and critical self-reflection are important, we should have gratitude for the present as well as a drive towards a successful future.  A warm smile from a stranger, those two very productive hours of studying, those delicious blueberry muffins you made, that swim you went for, a insightful discussion over coffee, or that new song you learned on the ukulele are all worth noting.  If it had a positive effect on you, write it down.

And the nights you don’t feel like doing it?  They are the most important.  You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after you list five positive things that happened to you – and believe me, there are always at least five.

The final benefit of this exercise?  On a down day, you can look back on your ‘Positive Journal’ and be reminded of all the wonderful things that happen to you.  Start tonight!


1“Happy Brain, Happy Life”

2“The Health Benefits of Journaling

“Sleep Inspires Insight” (accessible through UBC Library)