Objectives: To test whether individual differences in gratitude are related to sleep after controlling for neuroticism and other traits. To test whether pre-sleep cognitions are the mechanism underlying this relationship.
Method: A cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted with a large (186 males, 215 females) community sample (ages=18-68 years, mean=24.89, S.D.=9.02), including 161 people (40%) scoring above 5 on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, indicating clinically impaired sleep. Measures included gratitude, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), self-statement test of pre-sleep cognitions, the Mini-IPIP scales of Big Five personality traits, and the Social Desirability Scale.
Results: Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. The relationship between gratitude and each of the sleep variables was mediated by more positive pre-sleep cognitions and less negative pre-sleep cognitions. All of the results were independent of the effect of the Big Five personality traits (including neuroticism) and social desirability.
Conclusion: This is the first study to show that a positive trait is related to good sleep quality above the effect of other personality traits, and to test whether pre-sleep cognitions are the mechanism underlying the relationship between any personality trait and sleep. The study is also the first to show that trait gratitude is related to sleep and to explain why this occurs, suggesting future directions for research, and novel clinical implications.