4 Benefits of Journaling Before Bed

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Meet Dr. Burns, a devoted chiropractor with an extensive seven-year professional career dedicated to optimizing patient health. With an academic background in Kinesiology, Life Sciences, and Sports Science and Rehabilitation,…

Last Updated On December 22nd, 2023
4 Benefits of Journaling Before Bed

Key Takeaways

  • Improved Sleep Quality: Journaling before bed helps identify sleep patterns and triggers, leading to faster sleep onset and more restful, uninterrupted sleep. It is particularly beneficial for those struggling with sleep disorders, and research suggests that it can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: The practice of journaling serves as an effective tool for managing stress and anxiety. By decluttering the mind and addressing worries through writing, individuals can experience a reduction in cognitive arousal. Gratitude journaling and proactive worry lists contribute to a more positive mindset.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity: Journaling before bed aids in organizing thoughts, freeing up mental space, and promoting a focused and efficient mindset. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the day, plan for the next, and prioritize tasks. The cognitive activation achieved through bedtime writing contributes to overall mental clarity and productivity.

Journaling before bed may sound like an old-fashioned practice, but it can lead to a wealth of benefits that you might not expect. Whether you’re a busy freelancer, have a jam-packed work schedule, or want to improve your nighttime routine, journaling before bed could be the answer you’re looking for.

“The act of journaling before bedtime has profound psychological benefits,” says Dr. Jordan Burns. “Studies demonstrate that expressive writing Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source can help individuals process emotions, reducing the mental chatter that often interferes with sleep. Engaging in reflective practice through journaling facilitates a mental unwind, promoting a calmer state conducive to quality sleep.”

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In this article, we’ll explore how this simple habit can help you get a better night’s sleep, reduce stress levels, and improve your mental clarity. So, let’s dive in and discover the many benefits of journaling before bed.

Improved Sleep Quality

Are you having difficulty falling asleep or waking up feeling groggy? Keeping a sleep journal or diary could help identify patterns and triggers to improve your sleep quality. Journaling before bed can aid in falling asleep faster and achieving more restful and uninterrupted sleep.

Research shows Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source that journaling before bed can reduce the sleep onset latency, the time it takes to fall asleep. By writing down your worries or problems, you are processing and releasing cognitive arousal, which can help you fall asleep faster. Moreover, maintaining a sleep log or diary can help monitor and track your sleep patterns and total sleep time, leading to a better night’s sleep.

If you are struggling with sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep journaling and keeping a sleep diary Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source can help you and your healthcare provider understand the underlying concerns. Here are Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source some Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source samples Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source of how to format your sleep diary. In many cases, sleep aids and medications can be reduced or eliminated with the use of sleep logs.

Journaling before bed has been the subject of much sleep research. In a 2018 study published Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source in Experimental Psychology, participants who wrote a to-do list for the next day fell asleep more quickly than those who wrote about tasks completed earlier that day. The study implies that writing down future tasks can offload them, reducing worry and brain activity, and leading to a better night’s sleep.

In summary, journaling before bed can improve your sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster, monitoring sleep patterns, and reducing sleep disorder symptoms. Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source It is a simple yet effective way to achieve a good night’s sleep.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source or negative thoughts, journaling before bed can be a great way to help manage your mental health for a better night’s sleep. Writing down your worries, fears, and future tasks can help declutter your mind and alleviate cognitive arousal, leading to reduced stress levels.

Consider creating worry lists or a worry journal, where you list out your anxieties Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source and concerns and potential solutions. If you struggle with thinking of what to write down, consider these prompts to address anxiety.

This proactive approach to journaling for emotional health can help mitigate anxious feelings and promote a more positive mindset. Additionally, practicing gratitude journaling, where you write down three things you’re grateful for each day, can help shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life, further reducing stress and anxiety.

“In my practice, I often recommend bedtime journaling to patients grappling with sleep disturbances,” says Dr. Burns. “Practical tips include jotting down positive experiences, gratitude, or concerns in a structured way. This helps declutter the mind and contributes to cultivating a positive mindset, which is essential for restful sleep. Integrating journaling into the evening routine aligns with holistic sleep improvement strategies.”

Overall, journaling can be an effective form of cognitive activation, allowing you to process and identify negative thought patterns and reframe them into more constructive ones. By incorporating journaling into your bedtime routine, you can reduce stress and anxiety, leading to improved mental health for better sleep.

Enhanced Mental Clarity

Journaling before bed can do wonders for your mental clarity and productivity. By taking the time to jot down past events, unfinished tasks, and completed tasks, you can organize your thoughts and free up mental space. This process of cognitive activation can help you gain perspective and prioritize your tasks, leading to a more focused and efficient mindset.

Bedtime writing also serves as an opportunity to plan for the next day and reflect on your work schedule. By brainstorming about the next few days and mapping them out on paper, you can alleviate stress and promote efficient problem-solving to better maintain an ideal work-life balance.

Journaling for mental clarity is also an effective non-pharmacological tool for anxiety Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source Not just for anxiety, but for PTSD and depression symptoms, too. Those with physical conditions that affect sleep may also benefit from journaling to manage Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source their mental health, such as diabetes.

Whether you’re a busy freelancer seeking to work remotely better or a nine-to-five worker in a standard office, journaling before bed can help alleviate stress and achieve a clearer mind. Try it out to experience the benefits for yourself!

Better Sleep Onset

Do you find yourself lying in bed for hours, unable to fall asleep? Journaling before bedtime may be the solution you’ve been looking for. By writing down your thoughts and emotions, you can process and release cognitive arousal that may be keeping you awake.

Another way to achieve better sleep onset is by maintaining a dream journal. By recording your dreams, you can better understand Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source subconscious thoughts and emotions that may be impacting your sleep.

It also provides an opportunity to reflect on your day and process any unresolved issues that may be causing stress and anxiety. Keeping a dedicated dream journal can help you unlock how to lucid dream, as a bonus.

 “Scientific literature sheds light on the positive correlation between journaling and improved sleep,” says Dr. Burns. “This connection is not merely anecdotal; it’s supported by evidence indicating that transferring thoughts to paper may alleviate stress and anxiety, paving the way for a more serene sleep environment. Journaling can be valuable to one’s sleep hygiene routine.”

So next time you’re struggling to fall asleep, try picking up a pen and paper instead of reaching for aids such as melatonin for sleep. You may be surprised by the power of journaling before bedtime.

Supporting Research and Studies

Research has shown that journaling before bed can have a positive impact on sleep quality, stress reduction, and mental clarity. Baylor University conducted a study that found participants who wrote down their thoughts and feelings before sleeping for 20 minutes each night experienced significant improvements in sleep quality. Sleep diaries have also been shown to be an effective tool in identifying sleep patterns and disorders.

Experimental psychology studies have further highlighted the benefits of journaling before bed, demonstrating that it can reduce cognitive arousal and help individuals fall asleep faster. Clinical groups, such as Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source cancer patients, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source have also found journaling to be a helpful tool in managing stress and promoting well-being.

“As a chiropractor committed to holistic well-being, I encourage individuals to personalize their bedtime journaling approach,” says Dr. Burns. “ Research, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source such as findings from Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source ‘The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,’ supports the notion that tailoring journaling to individual preferences enhances its efficacy.”

“Whether through traditional journaling, bullet points, or creative expression, the key is to find a method that resonates and contributes to a peaceful transition to sleep.”

Future studies will continue to explore the benefits and potential uses of journaling in various contexts, including sleep medicine and mental health. For example, one 2002 study Verified Source American Psychological Association (APA) Collaborative organization for psychologists across the country. View source suggests writing about trauma can make a significant impact on immune health, as well as on the mind.

Overall, the evidence supports incorporating journaling into a bedtime routine as a means of promoting a better night’s sleep and overall well-being.

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Are you a busy freelance writer with a hectic work schedule? Incorporating journaling into your bedtime routine can be an effective way to wind down after a long day, along with following other working from home tips. By taking a few moments to write down your thoughts and reflections, you can help transition from a busy day to a restful night.

To establish a consistent journaling practice, choose a comfortable and quiet space where you can focus on the process. Whether you prefer to journal before bed or in the morning, it’s important to make it a part of your nightly routine. By setting aside dedicated time for journaling, you can ensure that it becomes a good sleep habit that you can stick to.

Integrating journaling into a personalized nighttime routine can be a simple and effective way to improve your overall well-being, along with other steps for self-care such as a warm bath or a nighttime skincare routine. So, take a moment to unwind, write down your thoughts, and prepare yourself for a better night’s sleep. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead!

Journaling Techniques and Tips

Journaling can be an integral part of your bedtime routine and a cornerstone of your overall health and wellness. By committing to just a few minutes of writing each night, you can tap into the many benefits of this powerful tool and make it a gold standard habit in your life.

Journaling can help improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance mental clarity. Here are some practical techniques and tips for incorporating journaling into your bedtime routine.

How to Journal for Maximum Benefit in Just Five Minutes

Many people avoid journaling because they believe it takes too much time. However, even just five minutes of writing before bed can yield significant benefits. Here’s how to make the most of your journaling time:

  • Write freely: Don’t worry about grammar or spelling errors. Just write what comes to mind without judgment or fear of criticism.
  • Focus on the positive: Instead of ruminating on the negative aspects of your day, try to focus on the good things that happened.
  • Set an intention: Before you start writing, ask yourself what you want to achieve from your journaling practice.

Develop a Bullet Journaling System

Bullet journaling is a versatile and customizable organizational method that combines note-taking, planning, and journaling into a single, streamlined system. Developed by Ryder Carroll, the key concept of bullet journaling is to use simple symbols, such as dots, circles, and dashes, to represent tasks, events, and notes rapidly and efficiently.

This analog system allows individuals to create their own unique organizational structure, incorporating calendars, to-do lists, and reflections all in one place. The flexibility of a bullet journal accommodates various planning styles, making it a personal and adaptable tool for tracking goals, managing time, and fostering creativity.

With its emphasis on simplicity and efficiency, bullet journaling has gained popularity as a method that encourages mindfulness, productivity, and a sense of accomplishment. And bullet journaling before bed offers a dedicated time for reflection, organization, and goal-setting, helping to clear your mind before sleep.

Understand the Benefits of Gratitude Journaling

Gratitude journaling involves writing down things you are thankful for, such as positive experiences, people in your life, and personal qualities. Taking a few minutes Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source each night to reflect on the positive aspects of your day can help shift your focus from negativity and stress to positivity Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source and gratitude. Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source It can also improve overall well-being and increase feelings of happiness and contentment, along with improving focus and resilience.

Try Some Doodling and Light Drawing

Stuck on what to write down? Try some simple drawings! Doodling and drawing in a journal before bed can be a therapeutic and relaxing practice that aids in unwinding from the stresses of the day. Engaging in creative expression through doodling Verified Source Harvard Health Blog run by Harvard Medical School offering in-depth guides to better health and articles on medical breakthroughs. View source allows your mind to shift away from anxieties and pressures.

Doodles aren’t as random as you might think. The act of drawing prompts a focus on the present moment, encouraging mindfulness and diverting attention from racing thoughts. The rhythmic motion of a pen or pencil on paper can have a calming effect for some, while for others it may serve as a measure of their stress. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source

This creative outlet serves as a means of self-expression, providing a non-verbal channel to release any pent-up emotions. The absence of rules or expectations in doodling can foster a sense of freedom, making it an accessible and enjoyable way to unwind, promoting mental clarity, and preparing the mind for a restful night’s sleep.

The Right Way to Journal Before Bed

Journaling before bed can be a personal and effective practice for improving sleep, reducing stress, and enhancing mental clarity. While there is no right or wrong way to journal, finding a style that meets your preferences and goals is key.

To get started, consider creating a to-do list for tomorrow or jot down some future tasks to clear your brain before sleep. Additionally, a worry list can help you address any anxieties related to the next few days. By putting these thoughts on paper, you may be able to reduce stress and promote a more restful night’s sleep.

Remember, the purpose of journaling is to help declutter your mind, not create more stress. With a few minutes of writing before bed, you may be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your nighttime routine and overall well-being.

FAQs

What are the benefits of journaling before bed?

Journaling before bed can lead to a better night’s sleep, reduced stress levels, and improved mental clarity. Journaling before bed helps identify patterns and triggers affecting sleep. It aids in falling asleep faster and achieving a more restful sleep. Writing down worries and negative thoughts can declutter the mind and alleviate cognitive arousal, reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Keeping a journal before bedtime not only enhances your sleep habits, it also makes it easier to fall asleep quickly and enjoy a more peaceful night. Additionally, it allows you to express gratitude, which has been shown to positively impact mental well-being. By regularly showing gratitude in your journal, you can cultivate a positive mindset, reduce stress, and contribute to better overall sleep.

Does journaling before bed enhance mental clarity?

Yes, journaling helps organize thoughts, free up mental space, and assists in setting priorities and planning for the next day. Maintaining a dream journal also helps understand subconscious thoughts and emotions impacting sleep. Indeed, journaling is a powerful tool that not only helps with organizing thoughts but also tackles the biggest challenge of freeing up mental space. When you jot down your thoughts, it becomes easier to let go of worries and reduce the burden of feeling guilty about unfinished tasks.

Moreover, maintaining a gratitude journal in your nightly writing routine can positively shape your mindset, helping you face future events with a more optimistic outlook. By actively engaging in this reflective practice, you pave the way for improved sleep and a more positive approach to life’s challenges.

Is there scientific research supporting the benefits of journaling before bed?

Yes, studies from respected institutions such as Baylor University and in the realm of experimental psychology have validated the positive effects of journaling on both sleep quality and mental well-being. Previous research, including work by Emory University, underscores the importance of incorporating journaling into your routine for more restful sleep and improved overall health. By drawing on the insights from these studies, we can actively embrace journaling as a valuable practice for enhancing our sleep and well-being.

How can journaling be incorporated into a bedtime routine?

Journaling can serve as a transitional activity between a busy day and a restful night. Establishing a consistent practice and integrating it into a personalized nighttime routine is important. Techniques such as gratitude journaling can be incorporated into a nightly practice. Journaling doesn’t have to be time-consuming; even five minutes of writing can provide benefits.

Is there a right or wrong way to journal before bed?

There is no right or wrong way to journal before bed. Find a style that suits your preferences and goals. Creating to-do lists and worry lists can help clear the mind and reduce stress about future tasks.

Journaling before bed has numerous benefits, including improved sleep quality, reduced stress and anxiety, and enhanced mental clarity. We encourage you to give it a try and experience the positive impact it can have on your nightly routine.

Conclusion

Incorporating journaling into a bedtime routine can have numerous benefits for overall well-being. By improving sleep quality, reducing stress and anxiety, and enhancing mental clarity, journaling before bed can help individuals wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.

Research has consistently shown the positive impact of journaling before bed on sleep quality and mental health. By exploring different journaling techniques and finding the right style that suits individual needs, anyone can benefit from this simple yet powerful practice.

So why not give it a try? Whether it’s jotting down a quick to-do list or taking five minutes to reflect on the day, incorporating journaling into a bedtime routine can be a game-changer. Start reaping the benefits of journaling before bed today!


About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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