A conference speaker asked for a show of hands of people who are good sleepers. Less than 10% of the audience raised their hand. The speaker asked the good sleepers, “What do you think about as you fall asleep?” 
They all had the same answer, “NOTHING.” 
There is a connection between quieting the mind and falling asleep. Journaling before bed is a practice that can help clear your mind to sleep better at night.

So, what keeps YOU up at night? 

  • Conversations that you had earlier in the day?
  • A big decision that needs to be made soon?
  • A relationship in conflict?
  • Financial worries? 
  • Creative ideas?

Here are some tips to structure a new journaling routine:

Create categories for your journaling that make sense to you. For example:

Brain Dump

What are all the things?

  • What needs to be done tomorrow?
  • What needs to be done next week?
  • Who needs to be contacted for what?
  • What needs to be planned, purchased, or shopped for?
  • Who do you need to contact for help?

Creative Ideas

What creative projects keep swimming in your brain? Get them down on paper and out of your dreams.


  • When are payments due?
  • How can you create quick cash?
  • Is there something that you’re specifically worried about?

Relationship Issues

  • What are your feelings about the relationship now? 
  • What is the actual problem in the relationship? 
  • Is this relationship typically life-giving? 
  • Does the other person think there is a problem? 
  • Does it seem like this relationship could change and improve? 
  • Have you asked for a specific change? 

Things you want to do but will take some time to plan

During this journaling exercise, put an appointment in your calendar. 

  • “Dream about starting my own business” 
  • “Brainstorm about writing a book”

And then, follow through with those appointments to yourself.

Now, give yourself several nights to see if this practice puts your mind at ease and helps you sleep. Adjust it to fit your needs. Figure out what optimizes the practice for you. Does it work best if you write non-stop for 15 minutes without editing? Do you need more time? 

After you journal, take a few minutes to breathe, meditate, or pray. Allow yourself to transition from thinking to rest.

~ Donna Durham, MMFT

Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash