You see, your brain is amazing, but here's the thing: it only has so much power to focus its attention. And it's not so great at focusing on both positive and negative things at the same time.
One of the most effective ways to create a sense of calm and happiness before sleep is to make a habit of reflecting on the things in your life that you are grateful for, and the positive things that happened that day.
Feelings of gratitude directly activate brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the reward neurotransmitter. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did again. It’s the brain saying “Oh, do that again, it felt great.”
All this means a regular gratitude practice can have a powerful impact on managing your night-time anxiety because it engages your brain on a positive and virtuous cycle that will want to repeat on a nightly basis.
In his groundbreaking TED talk, The happy secret to better work, Shawn Achor says the key is writing down three things you are grateful for and then describing in detail one positive experience you had that day. It sounds too good to be true, but the simple act of focusing on the positive aspects of our lives can completely change our level of happiness and contentment.
Once you begin a regular gratitude practice, you will start to realise that even on your worst days, there is always something you are grateful for… friends, family, great food, a glorious full moon, freshly-washed sheets… the list is always endless.