The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep

J Health Psychol. 2016 Oct;21(10):2207-17. doi: 10.1177/1359105315572455. Epub 2015 Mar 2.


This randomised controlled experiment tested whether a brief subjective well-being intervention would have favourable effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine function and on sleep. We compared 2 weeks of a gratitude intervention with an active control (everyday events reporting) and no treatment conditions in 119 young women. The treatment elicited increases in hedonic well-being, optimism and sleep quality along with decreases in diastolic blood pressure. Improvements in subjective well-being were correlated with increased sleep quality and reductions in blood pressure, but there were no relationships with cortisol. This brief intervention suggests that subjective well-being may contribute towards lower morbidity and mortality through healthier biological function and restorative health behaviours.

Keywords: biological responses; gratitude; intervention; sleep; subjective well-being.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Optimism*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone