It’s 1 in the morning and you’re lying in bed, painfully awake.
This is a place I imagine we’ve all been at one point or another, for one reason or another. A habit I’ve recently gotten into when this happens is journaling. I try to stay away from my phone, but I do put on a little light from a small lamp, grab some paper, and do a little writing.
You’re probably thinking, “putting on lights and doing an activity do not sound like reasonable ways to get yourself back to sleep.” And if that’s what you’re thinking, yes, to a degree you are correct. But, hear me out. This is a great way to help gather some peace of mind and get into a routine of better sleep. How?
Get the stressful feelings out.
Is something bothering you? Write it down. Put it on paper and read over it once or twice. If it’s trivial, great, it’s now off your mind and on paper. If it’s heavy, you have it written down to review and take action on in the morning, with a clear mind and heart.
Dream your dreams on paper.
Have you ever had a dream that has either been so good or so weird, you wake up and think about it to the point where you can’t fall back to sleep? Write it down! Really, getting your thoughts out will clear your mind and allow you to truly get rest.
Make this time a productive occasion.
I make lists. Lots of lists. These are for work, for the grocery store, for my weekend plans. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, I make more lists. It takes all of the worry out of my mind to know I have an actual plan of tasks and items put together, on paper, where I will remember them. I then don’t have thoughts racing to my mind, or wake up in a sudden panic that I forgot something. That dissipates stress and anxiety and truly puts me back to sleep.
Transition the activity.
As you begin getting better rest because you’re clearing your thoughts, try transitioning journaling to a time right before you head to bed. This is a great time to spend a little longer on your writing, or to reflect on things or activities for which you’re grateful as well.
Be sure to only spend a few minutes getting these thoughts on paper if it’s the middle of the night. As helpful as this is, it’s important to be sure you’re not keeping yourself awake writing a novel. The main idea of these exercises is to get the immediate thoughts down so you can revisit them with some clarity once you’ve had a good night of rest.
The more I’ve done this, the better I’ve been able to sleep because I don’t have a mind racing with worry or panicked thoughts each night.
I continue to journal, but now it’s mostly a before-bed activity that allows me to engage with my creativity and get my mind prepared for rest. I also journal mantras and meditations that help me stay calm, and to focus on rejuvenating rest.
Do you journal? Is this something you might try? Let us know on social media, or in an email firstname.lastname@example.org.