Writing down our feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams have long been considered a powerful way to calm our busy minds. Numerous studies have linked journalling to improving our mental health wellbeing but often we link this to a morning ritual, cracking open our daily notebooks and to-do lists.
According to a 2018 research review, journalling may contribute to fewer stress-related doctor visits, lower blood pressure, improved mood and greater wellbeing. While gratitude diaries are all well and good, there are some real benefits to sleep journalling in helping us have a deeper snooze.
“Sleep journalling is all about taking a few minutes before going to bed (or in bed) and allowing your mind to process what’s going on for you right now,” says Dr Kat Lederle, sleep scientist and body clock expert. “This could be about the day you had, more often though it is the future that creates feeling of anxiety and uncertainty.”
Dr. Ledere emphasises the importance of going old-school with pen and paper. “If you use your phone, you expose yourself to direct light which will stimulate you. Also, you might be tempted to look at other content which will be even more stimulating.”
Carley Mellors-Blair, holistic and wellbeing expert and founder of Altered Health, shares with GLAMOUR why we should all be keeping a sleep journal.
What is sleep journalling?
“Sleep journalling is a technique that you use for about an hour before you go to bed, it can be used just before, but it’s essentially a way of emptying the noise. The noise from the day, the noise of ‘I haven’t got this done’, all the things that are left undone. It could just be thinking about a conversation you had during the day with someone.
“Sleep journalling helps you clear your head and prepare for tomorrow. Rather than going to sleep and overthinking what you have left to do for the next day, a beneficial thing to do is just write this in a journal.”
What are the benefits of sleep journalling?
“For me, journalling has four corners. One where you can review your day, almost like an ”I’ve done it list” which builds positive reinforcement. The second corner is gratitude, it’s a way of turning on all your good chemicals. If you write a list of things you are grateful for, you won’t have that negativity as you go to sleep and this will affect the way you wake up too.
“Another corner is self-analysis, which is a gentle critical process. Thinking about things you could have done better during the day, and ways you could handle situations better, ultimately stops you from overthinking before sleeping. And finally, to make a wishlist. If you could do anything, time and possibly being no object, what would you do? Create some goals around this.
“Sleep journalling boosts confidence, benefits sleep pattern, makes you an easier person to deal with as you practice reflection, helps you wake up in a better mood.”
Choosing a sleep journal
Make sure you choose a sleep journal with a layout that works for you, whether that means it has lots of blank space to spill your thoughts freely and areas for all those doodles or a journal with guided prompts and different sections to break up specific thoughts and ideas. After all, the best sleep journals need to align with your own preferences if you are going to actually write in them every evening – and enjoy doing so.