Many people write or journal before bed as part of a wind-down ritual, and research has found that this routine does help people relax. But it’s important to note that what you write before bed actually makes a difference — and it’s especially helpful to write what you’re grateful for.

There’s science to back this: The small steps we take before bed hold the power to determine not just how we sleep during the night, but how we feel when we wake up in the morning, and even throughout the day. Committing to a nighttime routine, and habit-stacking a Microstep like penning a gratitude list before bed, will help improve your well-being and stick to the habit. It’s exactly the kind of “tiny victory” that B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., behavioral psychologist and founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, says can build up to a bigger, more sustainable habit in the long run. All it takes is a little mindfulness to reframe your efforts from this motivating perspective.

Plus, there’s a plethora of evidence that proves practicing gratitude before bed has major health benefits, both physical and mental. According to one study, writing a gratitude list before bed helped participants sleep better and longer. Similarly, researchers at the University of Manchester found that practicing gratitude in the evening is linked to falling asleep faster, better quality sleep, and sleeping soundly for longer periods of time. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that gratitude is associated with healthier eating and better physical health. Another study concluded that there is a direct correlation between gratitude and combating depression, and that thinking thankful thoughts helps improve mental health and decrease stress. Research in The Journal of Positive Psychology even found that gratitude has a substantial impact on materialism and generosity, boosting selflessness and decreasing materialistic tendencies.

Adopting this simple Microstep into your nighttime routine means that you’ll not only sleep better, you’ll also feel more connected and generous towards your colleagues, and will perform much better. And you’ll be all the more grateful for it.

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  • Mallory Stratton

    Director of Content Operations at Thrive

    Mallory is Director of Content Operations at Thrive. Prior to Thrive, she was Associate Editor on “It’s All In Your Head” by Keith Blanchard (Wicked Cow Studios, 2017), an illustrated brain science book, and worked closely on its accompanying cross-platform partnerships with Time Inc. and WebMD. She spends her off-hours curating playlists, practicing restorative yoga, and steeping new teas.