Journal Your Way to Better Sleep

woman writing in bedtime journal for better sleep

Sleep difficulties are one of the most common complaints from women over fifty. There are four proven reasons that bedtime journaling – even just for a few minutes – can help you sleep better.

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Do you find yourself tossing and turning, unable to turn off all the noise in your head and the stress you feel? Research has shown that journaling at bedtime can help you sleep more soundly.

The stress we experience in our daily lives comes from all directions.

Fears, worries, and distractions can take their toll on our health and can have a dramatic impact on our quality and quantity of sleep. It’s a Catch22 – stress keeps us from sleeping well, and lack of sleep increases stress levels.

During the day, it’s easier to push worries aside. But when you lie down for the night and try to relax your mind to sleep, those worries seem to come at you from all directions.

Your mind starts to race from one concern to the next until you are overwhelmed.

With each glance at the clock, time passes and you find yourself lying awake.

If you get to sleep at all, your sleep is likely to be restless and not restorative.

woman journaling at bedtime in order to get better sleep

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Why Does Journaling at Bedtime Help You Sleep?

Journaling just before bedtime can provide an outlet for your stress, enabling you to “pack it away for the night”, and get a better night’s sleep.

Does journaling at bedtime sound like work?

It might at first seem like writing down your thoughts will only make you focus on them that much more.

In reality, though, journaling helps you release your stress.

Journaling helps because it:

  • Focuses your thoughts
  • Is a creative outlet
  • Gets thoughts out of your head
  • Creates an opportunity for problem-solving

If you choose to journal right before bed every night, it can even become a soothing part of your bedtime routine. Over time, you’ll come to associate taking out your journal with feeling relaxed, and that may also contribute to falling asleep more easily.

Linda Wasmer Andrews
Journaling at Bedtime Can Help You Sleep as this woman in black in bed writing in journal

Reason #1 Your Sleep Gets Better: Journaling Helps You Focus Your Thoughts

Instead of stressful thoughts spinning constantly through your brain, journaling helps organize thoughts and process them.

Once written down, it’s easier to see the causes, connections, and possible outcomes of your stressors.

Taking the time to focus your energy on your thoughts helps you deal with them more effectively, rather than pushing them to the side as you may do during the daytime, leaving them nagging in your brain.

Reason #2 Your Sleep Gets Better: Journaling is a Creative Outlet

The act of writing and journaling uses the creative side of your brain. This gives the methodical side a bit of a break. To further enhance this relief, don’t limit your journaling to writing.

Journaling can exist in many forms.

Include coloring, doodling, sketching, writing poems, or any other form of creative expression. This is your journal – you are free to fill it with whatever you choose.

Reason #3 Your Sleep Gets Better: Journaling Gets Thoughts Out of Your Head

When you put your worries in writing, it tells your brain that it can release these thoughts. You won’t forget or overlook anything, because you’ve recorded it all in your journal.

Psychologically, your brain believes that once your thoughts are on the page, it doesn’t need to focus as intensely anymore. Your mind can begin to relax.

Committing your thoughts to paper may have a greater impact than simply thinking them in your head because writing requires a deeper level of psychological processing.

Linda Wasmer Andrews

Reason #4 Your Sleep Gets Better: Journaling Enables Problem Solving

Have you ever noticed how many great ideas you have in the shower?

Journaling gives your mind the opportunity to wander randomly and can lead to similar breakthroughs.

Worrying clutters your mind.

Journaling, even without a specific direction or prompt, frees the mind and triggers your natural problem-solving skills.

Journaling at Bedtime Can Help You Sleep

What Should You Write About When Journaling at Bedtime?

The beauty of a bedtime journal habit is that there are no rules.

You are free to write about anything you choose. You can write a single sentence, or several pages, or anything in between.

If you aren’t sure how to get started, try one of these ideas:

  • Make a list of the specific things that are causing you to worry and stress
  • Try a brain dump – create a master “to-do” list with every activity you can think of
  • Choose an affirmation and write about it. Here are a few examples:
    • I did my best today. Tomorrow is an opportunity to start fresh.
    • I deserve a good night’s sleep and so I release my stress for the night.
    • My dreams are a place of positivity and my stress will not intrude.
    • I choose sleep over stress and worry. They will wait until my waking hours.
  • Choose a prompt to respond to. Try these to start:
    • My biggest challenge today was…
    • Today I successfully accomplished…
    • I’m proud of the way I … today.
    • Things I am learning as I respond to stress include…
  • Alternatively, write about the positive things that occurred during your day.
woman lying in bed reading journal,

What Sort of Journal Should You Use?

The short answer is this – whatever sort of journal you like best.

I do recommend that for bedtime journaling, you stick to pen and paper, and give the screen time a rest. Your eyes need that break from the blue light.

When it comes to paper journals, your options are wide open. You may choose anything from a spiral-bound notebook to a leather-bound book of blank pages, a bullet journal, or a printable journal ordered online, filled with prompts, doodle pages, and inspirational words.

I have several printable journal options available in my Etsy shop:

For short journaling sessions, I recommend 50 One-Minute Journal Prompts or One Good Thing Each Day

Becoming My Best Self is a gorgeous journal filled with affirmations followed by questions that prompt deep reflection.

See additional options here.

Read More:

Final Thoughts on Journal Your Way to Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep can help enormously with stress reduction.


Journaling at bedtime can help you sleep because it helps release your stress and calm your mind, preparing it to shut down easily and drift into sleep.

In the morning, when you wake up refreshed, you have a written record of your stressors – and very often, you’ll find the solutions on the same pages!

If you’ve never journaled at bedtime, try it for a week or two, and see what an impact it makes on your sleep quality.

woman journaling in bed before sleep because a bedtime journal can improve sleep
writing in a bedtime journal

 

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