22 Jan Go Write to Sleep
No matter the age, from babies to seniors, a bedtime routine promotes good wellness habits and sleep quality. There’s one pre-bedtime activity in particular that has emerged in the mainstream as beneficial to sleep and mental health – journaling.
One of the most common reasons why people have trouble falling asleep is because they can’t settle their minds – they’re thinking too much. Whether it’s going over the day in their minds, mentally creating tomorrow’s to-do list, or worrying about other issues, these thoughts create some level of stress and prevent people from relaxing.
Research says writing in a journal before bed helps people sleep better and longer. In a study of college students who had complained of worrisome thoughts at bedtime, the participants were divided into groups that were assigned various self-help strategies – one of them was journaling at bedtime every night for a week. The journaling group reported less worry and stress, increased sleep time and better sleep quality. The University of Michigan recommends it to their students for stress management and better sleep.
The idea of writing may be off-putting to some who don’t like writing or feel they don’t do it well. The quality of writing when you journal before bed does not matter. This is one activity that is all about the process and has very little to do with the product. And the results are worth it – sleep better, longer and wake up refreshed.
Here are four reasons why journaling promotes sleep and overall wellness:
- Writing is a release. It gets out all those thoughts looming in your mind, a process that requires a deeper psychological process that actually calms brain activity. It also makes you feel like you are making an impact by physically committing them to the page. Imagine that your thoughts are a cloud hanging over your head, and when a cloud gets too full and heavy, it has to rain. Let the thoughts rain out by journaling – leaving behind clear skies.
- Writing can make you happier. In a study at Southern Methodist University in Texas, participants their mood was measured before and after writing about various topics – their most traumatic life event; their best possible future self; both of those topics; or a non-emotional control topic. Results indicated that those who wrote about future goals reported feeling happier.
- Writing is a stress management tool. Another study showed that people who had stressful jobs and journaled said it was beneficial because it helped them cope with the pressures of their job. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker said that regular journaling about stressful events reduces the impact of those stressors on your physical health.
- Writing builds awareness and gratitude. Some people who have adopted journaling as a bedtime ritual, have chosen to do so in the form of gratitude journal. Proponents of this type of writing believe that when you take the time to focus on the positive things in your life and write about them, you are creating “neural pathways in [the] brain” for appreciating the people and things in your life, and as a result, eases anxiety, helps you sleep better and makes you more adaptable to change.
Get some ideas on how to start journaling tonight.