Most Americans don’t get enough sleep. Likely, you’re not either.
Any number of things could be limiting your ability to get a good night’s shut-eye, which is defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) as at least seven hours per night.
You need “enough” sleep for several reasons. It truly is a pillar of good health. Insufficient sleep can contribute to the risk for many chronic illnesses, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Mental distress
Poor sleep can also affect mood, learning, relationships, memory, and thinking.
If you’re struggling with falling or staying asleep and believe it could be contributing to your health challenges, journaling may help.
Having a million thoughts running through your head is a common cause of poor sleep. What do you have to do tomorrow, what you could have done differently today, and plans for the future can all swirl in your brain as you try to fall asleep.
Research has shown that taking some time to write those thoughts down to come up with a to-do list can help ease the mind and promote better sleep.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that taking just five minutes to journal near bedtime led to significantly better sleep.
Besides journaling, it’s wise to pay attention to anything you might be doing to limit sleep. A recent survey by the AASM found that the following activities are major factors in people’s sleep struggles:
- Drinking alcohol close to/after bedtime
- Binge-watching television/streaming series
- Watching sports
Before journaling, it’s likely worthwhile to spend some time doing relaxing and rather dull activities. This could involve a bath or something else relaxing (that does not involve a bright screen) to signal to your body that sleep is coming.
Following that, spend five- or ten-minutes journaling to ease your mind and promote a longer, deeper sleep.