You get into your PJs. Get comfortable in bed. Turn off the light. Close your eyes.
But your mind just won't calm down like you want it to. You toss and turn, worrying about that work assignment you didn't finish, your grocery list, an argument from this morning.
You can't sleep.
Though it may be common, too little sleep is a big problem. Why?
Quality sleep is our mind and body's time to recharge. It can be difficult to perform well at work, communicate with loved ones, or find energy for our hobbies when you're running on empty. You might feel more irritable, stressed, or distracted than normal.
Better sleep can improve all areas of your life — and journaling can help you get there.
So, what does writing in a journal have to do with falling asleep?
When you can't sleep and your thoughts are racing, they may feel a little out of control. But when we write them down, we organize them and see them from a new point of view.
Writing out your thoughts requires a deeper level of mental processing, more than simply thinking. Journaling helps us slow down, calm down, and put any challenges we're facing in perspective.
A 2018 study by Baylor University and Emory University found that journaling before bed decreases distractions, overthinking, and worry, allowing participants to fall asleep faster.
There’s something about the act of writing ... that tends to offload [worries] a little bit, or help us hit the pause button on [them]. - Michael Scullin, researcher at Baylor University
Think of your journal as a place to put your thoughts and worries away before going to bed.
There's no one right way to do it!
Some people like free-writing whatever's on their mind with good old-fashioned pen and paper.
But others may find it intimidating to figure out what to write about. A good alternative is a guided journaling app, like Jour.
Jour provides you with a series of guided questions, personalized just for you based on how you're feeling. With answers to tap right on your phone, it's always convenient to check in from the comfort of your own bed.
No matter what you choose, starting simple can help you build lasting habits with lasting results.
Remember that study we talked about?
Writing out a quick to-do list before bed proved almost as effective as most sleep aids for study participants.
There's no pressure to write something profound, or even grammatically correct! Your journal is for your eyes only, so write in whatever way feels easy and comfortable.
If you're feeling stuck and aren't sure what to write, no worries - we have you covered. These prompts will guide you to feeling calmer, more relaxed, and ready for a good night's rest.
Like what you see? You can find even more journaling ideas and daily inspiration on the Jour app.
Oftentimes when you can't sleep, it's because you're thinking about all of the things you have to do tomorrow. All that stress and anxiety and keeps you awake. But if you write down your to-do list, you're free to set those worries aside. (And you'll have a nice list of reminders to refer to in the morning).
What tasks do you hope to accomplish tomorrow?
Keeping a gratitude journal has all kinds of incredible benefits for your mental and physical health, including better sleep. Reflecting on what you're grateful for when you can't sleep encourages a more positive mindset, and puts the anxieties that may be weighing on you in perspective.
Loneliness can make it tricky to fall asleep. But, on the flip side, writing about someone meaningful to you allows you to call on their support - even when they aren't around.
Your journal can provide a listening ear when you need it most. Writing out your negative thoughts allows you to understand where they're coming from, and eventually let them go for now. You can always come back to what you've written later with a clearer mind.
Hopefully this article has helped you realize the amazing benefits of journaling at bedtime. Racing thoughts at night may keep you awake, but journaling can give you that peace of mind you're craving. Writing helps you process emotions, and in turn feel more relaxed and in control.
This is a daily practice that can improve all aspects of your life. When you sleep well, you're empowered to take on any challenges the day ahead may throw your way.
And remember - the Jour app is always here for you with plenty of ideas, questions, and encouragement if you're feeling stuck and looking for a little guidance.
Next time you can't sleep, grab a paper and pen - or the Jour app on your phone - and let your thoughts flow. Before you know it, you'll be off to dreamland.