Whether you’re new to journaling or you’ve been doing it for years, you’ve probably considered journaling before bed at one point or another. After all, it sounds like a nice, relaxing way to end a busy day, right? But when we think about journaling, we often think of cracking open our notebooks first thing in the morning to engage in journaling styles like dream journaling or morning pages.
It turns out that while there are certainly benefits to journaling in the morning, there are some real benefits to journaling before bed, too.. Here are five of them.
Benefits of journaling before bed
Here are five amazing benefits of journaling before bed:
1. The time before bed is a guaranteed uninterrupted stretch of time
Life gets busy. But here’s the great thing about the time right before bed: It’s not busy. If you have kids, you’ve probably already put them to bed, and you’ve probably finished cleaning up after dinner. If you tend to use the last 30 minutes or so before bedtime zoning out with a show on Netflix, why not replace that time with a journaling session?
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.
2. It helps you sleep
And on that note, journaling before bed can help you sleep better. By getting out unresolved thoughts or tough moments from the day or even writing out a to-do list, you may find that when your head hits the pillow, you drift off more quickly.
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.
3. Your memories of the day will be fresh
If you’re more of a diary-writer, meaning you like to record the happenings of your day, there’s no better time to write about and reflect on the day than at bedtime. Your memories of the day will be fresh, so you’ll be able to remember little details that may be gone by 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.
4. It can replace a negative habit
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 might want to try taking a walk every night after dinner instead.
So if you’re in the habit of engaging in a pre-bedtime activity that either disrupts your sleep or simply sets a bad tone for the end of the day — like watching a TV show or scrolling through social media — journaling before bed instead can be an excellent catalyst for habit change.
5. It can help improve your overall 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 general benefits combined with the emotional release that comes with writing out your thoughts and feelings at the end of the day make an excellent case for journaling before bed.
What are the best ways to journal for better sleep?
There’s really no “best” way to journal for better sleep — any kind of journaling is better than no journaling at all.
That being said, the research conducted on how journaling impacts sleep found that writing out a to-do list before bed seems to lead to better sleep overall, which is probably most conducive to a bullet journal style, or what Silk + Sonder most closely aligns with.
But if you find you get more of a benefit from stream of consciousness journaling or diary writing — or it simply comes more naturally to you — that’s an excellent pre-bedtime journaling style, too, and will still help you get better sleep.
Happy writing (and snoozing)!