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Can Gratitude Help You Live Longer?

The numbers are in and the facts are clear: gratitude helps you live longer. That’s because the more grateful you are for what you have, the happier you are.  And the happier you are, the healthier you’ll be. Gratitude doesn’t just improve your physical, psychological and emotional health — it also makes you into a nicer person. Here’s how it happens.

Gratitude Improves Physical Health

People who display gratitude have:

  • 16% fewer physical symptoms
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 25% increased sleep quality

Cancer survivors like Barbara Tako believe that “actively choosing to regularly practice gratitude is a powerful tool to manage the worries and fears of being a patient or a survivor.” This may be because the regions of the brain that are involved in happiness are also involved in blood-vessel function and inflammation. Studies have shown that levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to rise and fall with emotion. People who practice gratitude experience less stress, because they don’t tend to dwell on negatives and feel more empowered to overcome hurdles.

Gratitude Improves Psychological Health

Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, a leading gratitude researcher, gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

Gratitude Improves Self-Esteem

A grateful person is more likely to accept that someone else is being nice to him.  He’s able to take the kindness that someone else shows him at face value, because he believes that he’s a person worth of receiving kindness. On the other hand, someone with low self-esteem leans towards seeing an act of kindness with a skeptical eye. He’s more likely to think that his benefactor had ulterior motives and is simply trying to get something from them.

Gratitude Increases Mental Resilience

Research shows that gratitude not only reduces stress, but also plays a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. When you can recognize, even in the worst of times, that you have things you can thankful for, you’re more likely to have the resilience to bounce back.

Gratitude Makes you More Likely to Exercise

If you have less pain and are feeling rested, you’re more likely to exercise. Grateful people exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups. Both these facts contribute to longevity.

Gratitude Makes you into a Nicer Person

Saying thank you and showing appreciation for favors makes you into a nicer person. But the benefits don’t end with the nice words. Showing appreciation actually helps you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. Sending a thank-you note to the therapist who called you to check how you where doing after a challenging OT session can lead to a new friendship. By becoming more trusting, social, and appreciative, you can deepen your existing relationships and make new friends.

So how do we go about cultivating this captivating trait of gratitude?

The Easy Key to Cultivating Gratitude

More and more people have started keeping a five-minute daily gratitude journal. By spending just five minutes jotting down a few grateful thoughts before falling asleep, you learn to flex your gratitude muscles. And there are additional benefits. People who keep a gratitude journal sleep better and longer.  And there’s more. In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.

Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stressful situations. So throw out the negativity and bring in the gratitude. Because it looks like gratitude can help you live longer.


Rhona Lewis is a healthcare freelance writer with over 11 years of writing experience that she uses to help healthcare companies grow their authority and create brand awareness. Her background as a journalist means she’s curious enough to ask the right questions and committed to thorough research. She has a knack for breaking down complex medical concepts into content that a lay audience will read till the end.

 

References:

https://www.everydayhealth.com

http://www.happinessandwellbeing.org

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_keeping_a_gratitude_journal

woman sleeping

Are Your Sleep Habits Damaging Your Liver?

Before we talk about which sleep habits are damaging your liver, let’s get to know this organ. The liver performs more than 500 vital bodily functions. Here are a few:

  • Bile production. The liver produces bile, which helps break down the fat in food.
  • Glucose storage. It stores sugar called glucose, which gives you a quick energy boost when you need it.
  • Detoxification. It’s responsible for detoxifying your blood by removing harmful chemicals, such as hormones that have done their job, that are produced in your body.

The Liver’s Working Hours

Plenty is going on in our body when we’re sleeping, but the most important function is detoxification. This happens ideally between 11 pm to 3 am. During these hours, our liver becomes much larger as blood supplies from all over our body converge here.

Researchers monitoring phases of activity and rest in mice saw that the size of the liver gradually increases to about 40% more towards the end of the night and that it returns to its initial size during the day. When the normal circadian rhythm is reversed, this fluctuation disappears. As mammals, our liver works much the same way as the liver of mice. What happens to your liver, and by extension to you, if you can’t sleep during these hours? Can detoxification take place if you’re awake between 11 pm to 3 am? Here are three studies that seem to indicate that you’re heading for trouble if you don’t catch your shut-eye at the right time.

Sleep and Glucose

Studies show that losing a single night’s sleep may affect the liver’s ability to produce glucose and process insulin. This increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) and type 2 diabetes.

Sleep and Liver Fat

As many as 1 in 4 Americans are estimated to have excess liver fat. This can lead to inflammation and damage that could eventually cause liver failure. Fat production in the liver is affected by the circadian rhythm. So says a mouse study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania.  The study showed that liver cells change with the time of day and these changes influence gene expression. When mice are asleep and fasting, the genes involved in fat production are active and help prevent the liver from producing fat. Watch out if you’re disrupting your daily cycle with rotating shift work or night flights. This can increase the risk of diseases like obesity and diabetes.

Sleep and Liver Cancer

Researchers have also associated sleep disruption with increased risk of liver cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that 700,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. If you’re overweight, you run more of a risk for liver cancer. The same applies if you suffer from chronic sleep disruption. Scientists exposed mice to disrupted light and dark cycles for nearly 2 years. These cycles disrupted the normal sleep cycles of the mice. As a result, the mice developed a range of conditions, including skin disorders, neurodegeneration, and cancer.

Keep Your Liver Healthy For a Good Night

We’ve established that adequate sleep at the right times can keep your liver healthy. Sadly, if you already have liver damage, you’ll probably have trouble sleeping. Liver damage (cirrhosis) can be caused by harmful alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis B and C, metabolic disorders, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Most patients with liver damage have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. Their sleep is of poor quality, and in addition to sleeping less, they feel sleepy during the day. We don’t really understand why liver patients struggle with insomnia, but the hormone cortisol probably plays a part in things.

As well as getting to sleep on time, there’s one more thing that you can do to help your liver function: keep calm and relaxed so that your cortisol levels don’t rise. When you wake up in the morning, you usually feel energized. That’s thanks to the stress hormone cortisol that was secreted into your body before you woke up. Stress will elevate the cortisol levels in your blood. Your liver will have a harder time deactivating this hormone. The longer the hormone stays in your system, the harder it’ll be for you to fall asleep.


Rhona Lewis is a healthcare freelance writer with over 11 years of writing experience that she uses to help healthcare companies grow their authority and create brand awareness. Her background as a journalist means she’s curious enough to ask the right questions and committed to thorough research. She has a knack for breaking down complex medical concepts into content that a lay audience will read till the end.

Reference Articles:

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-link-between-sleep-liver-fat

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314318.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664866/