Can't Sleep? 12 Journaling Prompts to Help

If you can't sleep, journaling before bed can relax your mind and calm anxieties. Not sure where to start? We have 12 prompts that will have you sleeping peacefully in no time.

12 journaling prompts to sleep better

It's that time of night.

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.

Benefits of Journaling When You Can't Sleep

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.

Writing out a quick to-do list before bed proved almost as effective as most sleep aids for study participants.

12 Journaling Prompts for When You Can't Sleep

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.

1. Set Intentions

Oftentimes when you can't sleep, it's because you're thinking about all of the things you have to do tomorrow. These ongoing thoughts can cause anxiety.

Discover 4 breathing exercises for anxiety relief →

And 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.

Learn how to start a morning journaling practice →
  • What tasks do you hope to accomplish tomorrow?
  • What mindset do you want to have tomorrow?
  • What will you do for yourself to relax when your work is complete?

Practice Gratitude

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.

Simple tips for starting a gratitude journal →
  • Name three good things that happened today.
  • What are you glad you learned in the last year?
  • Look around. What do you value most about where you are right now?

Feel Connected

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.

  • Who's someone you really appreciate?
  • What's a special memory you have with them?
  • How do they make you feel supported and cared for?

Vent to Let it Go

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.

  • Is there a recent negative experience weighing on your mind?
  • What made this experience troubling?
  • What do you need to in order to forgive yourself and let it go?


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.

Give journaling before bed a try if:

  • You have trouble falling asleep
  • You’re experiencing stress and anxiety
  • You feel down at the end of your day
  • You want to feel more rested
  • You want to feel more focused & productive during the day

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.

Sweet dreams!