Benefits of journalling or drawing before bed…
Last week I discussed the top tips for improving sleep quality. One of the tips I mentioned was to try journalling or drawing before bed. This week I wanted to dive a little deeper into the benefits of writing down your thoughts or doodling on a piece of paper before your head hits the pillow.
Why does writing at bedtime help you get to sleep?
Throughout the day, we have all these things cycling through our head. Some of them seem to continue to cycle. There’s something about the act of writing — physically writing something on paper — that tends to offload it a little bit, or help us hit the pause button on it. The outcome seems to be that you decrease cognitive arousal, and that you decrease rumination and worry. If you decrease those two things, it makes sense that you’re going to fall asleep faster, because having stuff on your mind is one of the main barriers to falling asleep at night.
Journalling can reduce stress, calm the mind, and help recognise detrimental sleep habits. If you’re not sleeping well, discovering why may be as easy as writing in your sleep diary.
Benefits of this include:
Recognise habits. Writing down thoughts, worries, and sleep quality (including dreams, length of sleep, how many times you are restless) can help you to recognise habits and patterns in your sleep that need some work. For example, if you wake at night, it might be time to play around with bedroom temperature, cut out afternoon caffeine or stop looking at phone/lap top/tv screens in bed.
Reduce stress. When we’re anxious, Cortisol – a stimulant – is released into our bloodstream. It’s like having a shot of espresso before sleeping. Journalling an hour before bed can reduce the anxiety and worries that keep us up at night.
Release outcomes. Journalling can help release issues keeping us awake. For example, let’s say you have a meeting the next day. Write down what might happen and how you’ll deal with anything negative. This provides a plan of action to release the worry, rather than dwelling on any potential problems and having it interfere with sleep.
Improve gratefulness. Writing down things you’re grateful for before sleeping can have a massively positive impact on your health. Improved physical and psychological health, enhanced empathy, reduced aggression, improved self esteem and mental strength, and lastly, better sleep! Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
Never tried journalling before and aren’t sure exactly what to write about? The Tiny Buddha website has some interesting ideas and prompts to help get the ball rolling. Here are just a few:
- Write about where you are in life
- Start a dialogue with your inner child by writing in your subdominant hand
- Start a journal of self portraits
- Maintain a log of successes
- Keep a log or playlist of your favourite songs
- Write about something that’s bothering you in the third person
If you’re serious about wanting improved quality of sleep, I can’t recommend highly enough the process of journalling or drawing before bed. It has helped me to drift off easily each night and sleep almost right up to my alarm. Happy days! Or should i say, HAPPY NIGHTS!