You’ve certainly contemplated journaling before bed at some point, whether you’re new to journaling or have been doing it for years. After all, doesn’t that sound like a pleasant, soothing way to wind down after a long day?
However, when we think about journaling, we frequently envision opening our notebooks first thing in the morning to indulge in genres such as dream journaling or morning pages.
It turns out that, while journaling in the morning has its advantages, journaling before bed has its own set of advantages.
Uninterrupted Journaling Time
Life gets in the way. But here’s the thing about right before bedtime: it’s not busy. If you have children, you’ve almost certainly already put them to bed and cleaned up after dinner. Why not substitute a writing session for the last 30 minutes or so before bedtime when you’re fading out with a Netflix show?
Barring any unexpected interruptions (like kids who are convinced there are monsters under their bed), it’s very unlikely that anything will stop you mid-journaling session. And you may be surprised by how much better you sleep.
Help with Sleep
On that subject, journaling before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep. You may find that expressing unresolved thoughts or difficult events from the day, or even composing a to-do list, helps you fall asleep faster when your head strikes the pillow. You can even write out a list of what you have accomplished that day… and a few things you’re grateful for.
In fact, one study found that when participants journaled at bedtime, it reduced “bedtime worrying” and helped them fall asleep more quickly. They also slept longer than the participants who didn’t journal before bed.
Memories are Fresh at the End of the Day
If you’re more of a diary-keeper, which means you want to keep track of your daily activities, there’s no better time than bedtime to write about and reflect on your day. Because your recollections of the day will be fresh, you’ll be able to recall small details that may have faded by the time you wake up the next morning.
As a nice bonus, studies also show that journaling improves your memory overall — so writing out details from the day (you can write about your feelings, too!) may help keep your memory sharp over the years.
Replace Bad Habits
Research on making and breaking habits has shown that if you’re trying to break a bad habit, you should replace that behavior with an alternate habit. If you always crave sugar after dinner, for example, you could try going for a walk after supper instead.
If you have a pattern of doing something before bed that disrupts your sleep or sets a bad tone for the rest of the day, such as watching TV or surfing social media, journaling before bed can help you change that habit.
Improve Mental Health
The mental health benefits of journaling are pretty astounding: Regular journaling can help you manage anxiety and stress and cope with depression because it helps you prioritize your problems and fears, understand your triggers, and help you better identify any patterns you have.
These overall advantages, along with the emotional release that comes with writing down your thoughts and feelings at the end of the day, make journaling before bed a compelling case.
Heading Toward Better Sleep
There’s really no “best” way to journal for better sleep — any kind of journaling is better than no journaling at all.
If you discover that stream of consciousness blogging or diary writing provides you with greater benefits — or simply comes more naturally to you — this is a fantastic pre-bedtime journaling technique that will still help you sleep better.