The Effects of Sleep Restriction and Sleep Extension on Gratitude
In today’s society, the responsibilities of the average college student has skyrocketed and sleep has taken a fall in one’s list of priorities. Sleep restriction research has mostly focused on negative outcome measures, but this experiment utilized an experimental manipulation on sleep in order to examine its effect on gratitude and other positive affect outcome measures. Young adults (N=90) participated in a two-session study from Monday to Friday. Between the sessions, they wore an Actiwatch and were randomly assigned to one of three sleep conditions for four nights: naturalistic sleep, sleep restriction, and sleep extension. The results indicated that, relative to typical/naturalistic sleep, experimental sleep restriction worsened, and experimental sleep extension improved measures of life satisfaction, life purpose, and multiple gratitude measures. Therefore, avoiding nights of short sleep, and increasing nights of optimal sleep, can improve feelings of gratitude and outlook on life.