For as long as I can remember, I have never been a great sleeper. I'd wake up between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. every night like clockwork, and stress about things that happened the day before, or what could go wrong in the day ahead, as if any of us have any control over the future. My mind would swirl with these thoughts until I was so anxious that sleep eluded me completely. After years of operating on four hours of sleep a night, I knew I had to find a solution. So, instead of picking up my phone and sifting through social media in the middle of the night, I decided to start putting every thought and emotion that invaded my mind onto paper in a sleep journal.
Writing everything down helps me better process what I'm feeling, while providing some much-needed clarity.
I'm not the first person to adopt this strategy. Research has shown that journaling is highly effective at breaking cycles of sleeplessness — especially in our 24/7 culture, which increasingly causes people to toss and turn, worrying about everything they need to accomplish. "The intention is to reflect and release so you can prepare for a peaceful sleep," Tara Rosegarten, LCSW, a psychotherapist in New York City, told POPSUGAR. "Often times it may be helpful to focus on what you are grateful for. Even in the most chaotic of days there can always be a silver lining."
I've kept a journal by my bedside for over a year now, and I have yet to miss a night of writing, even while traveling. It's become just as important in my nighttime ritual as taking my makeup off before my head hits the pillow. I write down every thought that comes to mind, beginning with the things I'm most grateful for. Sometimes I pair that with a guided meditation.
In my experience, writing everything down helps me better process what I'm feeling, while providing some much-needed clarity. It has forced me to confront my emotions, both positive and troubling; think about what can be done to resolve those issues; and create a plan, before closing the book and placing it out of sight until the following day. It has transformed my sleep beyond measure. I've always been a future-leaning thinker, but we all deserve to sleep soundly at the end of the day.