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.
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How Can 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 helps you focus your thoughts
Instead of stressful thoughts spinning constantly through your brain, journaling helps organize thoughts and process them.
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.
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.
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
Journaling enables problem solving
Have you ever noticed how many great ideas you have in the shower? Journaling also 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.
What Should You Write About in a Bedtime Journal?
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 occured during your day.
Read More About Managing Stress:
- What’s Keeping You Awake?
- Can Meditation Help You Sleep Better?
- How Do You Recognize and Respond to Stress?
- 7 Fast Ways to Reduce Your Stress
- Stress-Reducing Activities That Keep Your Mind Active
Final Thoughts on How a Bedtime Journal Will Help You Sleep Better
A good night’s sleep can help enormously with stress reduction.
Journaling at bedtime can help you sleep because it helpsbefore bed can help 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.