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The Surprising Key to a Good Night's Sleep, According to Science

Best Life logo Best Life 10/23/2019 Diana Bruk

a person lying on a bed: Ideal napping stations should come equipped with a lock. This way, you won’t have to worry about intruders or distractions during your short stint of slumber. © Provided by Best Life

Ideal napping stations should come equipped with a lock. This way, you won’t have to worry about intruders or distractions during your short stint of slumber.

We all know that forgiving yourself and others can bring you peace of mind. And now, a new study published in the journal Psychology and Health has found that forgiveness may help you sleep better, too! Researchers led by Luther College psychology professor Loren Toussaint asked nearly 1,500 American adults to rate how likely they were to forgive both themselves for their own mistakes and others for hurting them. Then, Toussaint and his team asked the participants a series of questions regarding their sleep quantity and quality, levels of psychological distress, life satisfaction, and overall physical health. Their findings suggest that those who were more forgiving slept better at night, and, in turn, were happier and healthier than those who went to bed in anger.

The results led the researchers to conclude that "forgiveness of others and self-forgiveness may attenuate emotions such as anger, regret, and rumination" and help create a "restful mental state that supports sound sleep which, in turn, is associated with better health." While the study can't prove that forgiving your toddler for drawing on your freshly-painted walls will automatically result in a better night of rest, it does indicate that practicing forgiveness on a regular basis will make you feel better overall.

In addition to helping you sleep more soundly, previous research has shown that letting go of hostility or resentment can lower your risk of heart attack, ease pain, improve your cholesterol levels, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Of course, forgiving yourself or someone else isn't always easy. And, according to Karen Swartz, MD, director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, it's about more than just saying the words.

"It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not," Swartz explains in an article for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

So, next time you tuck yourself in for the night, why not give forgiveness a try? You're guaranteed to feel better and more well-rested in the morning. And for more recent research on the mind-body connection, check out Here Are the Major Health Benefits of Being Kinder to Yourself.

Gallery: 15 health problems caused by your lack of sleep

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