Sleep requires relaxation. It requires feeling like you can “turn off” your brain and allowing yourself to drift off into dreamland, comfortably. But for those with anxiety and stress, “turning off” your brain is often a significant challenge. Going to bed, you’re left with no distractions and nothing but your own thoughts.
- “What do I need to do tomorrow?”
- “Why did my partner say this to me today?”
- “What if I fall asleep and do not wake up?
Not all the thoughts are anxious either. Your mind may be racing with ideas, like “I have a great solution for a project at work. I hope I remember it!” or “I have an idea for a blog post on Flourish Psychology for tomorrow.”
These thoughts keep you awake, and you need an outlet that will successfully take the thought out of your head and put it elsewhere so that you can let your mind relax and drift off to sleep.
The Sleep Benefits of a Journal
One of the main reasons that your mind cannot relax enough for sleep is that it is trying to remember and process all the different things that are on your mind. Imagine you were tired, hiding in a dark cave, and suddenly heard a scary growl. You wouldn’t want to be able to forget about the growl and fall asleep, because you’d be in danger. So you will stay awake, trying to process the sounds and experiences around you.
Similarly, if you have a great idea, or you have something you need to remember, your brain is trying to make sure that you don’t forget it. It knows that you might forget it if you fall asleep, so it keeps you awake to prevent you from forgetting the idea.
One very effective way to relax your mind is to write out all these thoughts onto some type of journal or diary that you keep by your bed. Every thought, whether it’s sad or happy or scary or just an idea, can be written out in this journal.
What this does is that it essentially tells your brain “don’t worry, I can’t forget about this, because it’s right here in this journal that I can look at tomorrow.” It also helps you process the idea because you’re turning these random thoughts into words on a page.
Journaling for a Better Night’s Sleep
Your journal may not be able to cure your anxiety. But it can relax your active mind. For someone with sleep issues, especially if those sleep issues are due to racing or anxious thoughts, writing out those thoughts into a journal can be a great way to take them out of your mind and give yourself some much needed rest.
If you have trouble sleeping from stress or anxiety, contact Flourish Psychology today for more information about our anxiety treatments and support.