Mind Racing? Write your Insomnia Away
It’s 1 a.m. and your brain is on autopilot organizing your pantry in order of food group. You’d love to be sleeping but instead you’re going all Martha Stewart with your beanie weenies. It’s times like these that knowing how to keep a sleep journal come in handy.
Writing in a sleep journal when your mind won’t slow down materializes your thoughts and worries and makes them tangible. So instead of whizzing at 100 miles an hour solving a problem or doing a rundown of your schedule for the next day, your brain says, “girl, we got this settled. We can chill!”
It gives your brain an outlet for all the excess creativity, and writing down that awesome idea or solution gets it off your brain and onto paper.
Bonus! Use your sleep journal to track details about your daily habits that may be sabotaging your nights. Get your I Dream of Sleep Journal ===>
Help, My Brain is Holding Me Hostage!
I hate nights when I’m so exhausted, but still can’t fall asleep. My brain is racing and won’t slow down, no matter how hard I try NOT to.
It’s like my brain is a roller coaster, and I’m strapped to the front as it’s racing down the big plunge.
Nighttime mental overstimulation happens because we’re busy putting the kids to bed, doing last minute stuff for work, and getting ready for tomorrow. All this activity late in the evening makes your brain get stuck in the “on” position.
So even though you’re ready for bed, your brain is still in overdrive because it doesn’t have an on/off button. In order to sleep, your brain needs to wind down and veg out.
Sleep journaling is an awesome relaxation exercise, and learning how to keep a sleep journal is a good way to quiet your mind enough so you can sleep.
How to Keep a Sleep Journal for Insomnia Relief
There’s two ways you can journal to fall asleep. You can use journaling to wind down as part of your nighttime ritual for sleep. You can also do it once you’re lying awake categorizing your beanie weenies. Heck, if your brain is on super overdrive, do both!
If you’re writing to wind down before bed, make sure you’re in a room with soft, amber light. I use a Himalayan salt lamp because it promotes sleep and doesn’t emit blue light. It even helps to diffuse sleep inducing essential oils.
If you’ve already gone to bed and your brain is keeping you awake, get out of bed. Remember, don’t turn on any bright lights. Grab your notebook and just start writing down whatever is on your mind. Keep writing until your mind finally goes blank or you get sleepy, whatever comes first.
Writing Prompts for Sleep Journaling
Sometimes staring at a blank sheet of paper is intimidating, especially if you’re not used to free writing. But this is easy! Just write whatever is running through your mind that’s keeping your brain in high gear. But if you’re not sure how to start, here are some writing prompts to help you out:
- I can’t sleep because I’m worried about…
- I can’t sleep because tomorrow I have to…
- I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about how to fix…
- I can’t sleep because I’m mad about…
- I can’t sleep because I have an idea about…
You get the idea. And it might sound cheesy to start the sentence with “I can’t sleep because” but it really does help give you direction.
I really like this exercise, because I think my brain is actually more creative without me in control. I seriously have written whole blog posts in my head. (they were brilliant by the way thank you very much!) But guess what, I didn’t get out of bed and write in my journal, and the next morning I was drawing a blank.
So I ended up being an exhausted witch with writer’s block the next day. Yay me.
Be smart, write stuff down when you can’t sleep in your own sleep journal!
Make your Journal Do Double Duty
I recently saw a show called “Cool Japan” that was documenting Japanese diaries of all things. It seems the Japanese people are obsessed with recording everything about their daily lives down to the tiniest detail. Seriously, like what the weather was like and how many laps they swam in a day. They even sell 100 year diaries over there!
And while keeping a diary that lasts longer that you’ll actually be alive is a bit much, we can learn something from the Japanese and be a little bit anal when it comes to charting our habits to get better sleep.
Use your sleep journal to track details about your sleep, or lack thereof. Recording when you went to bed, when you wake up, what the room temperature was, can help you adjust each thing until you create the perfect night’s sleep.
How to Keep a Sleep Journal to Track your Sleep Habits
As you’re writing down what’s on your mind, take a couple of minutes to write down these stats at the bottom:
- What time you woke up that morning
- What time you went to bed
- The last time you drank caffeine before bed
- What time you ate something before bed and what it was
- Your room temperature
- How tired you were during the day
- Any medications you took. (OTC and prescription)
- Time of day and amount of exercise during the day
As you keep track of these stats, you’ll likely begin to notice a pattern. Once you do, you can adjust each activity to tweak your actions to hopefully get better sleep.
For instance, you may be keeping the thermostat at 74, but you sleep better when it’s cranked down to 65. (the ideal sleep temp btw!) Or maybe you’re drinking caffeine too late in the day, so you stop all caffeine a few hours earlier than normal.
When you add these to your sleep journal, you can see how easy it is to track how your daily routine is affecting your nights, or even contributing to your insomnia.
Now that you Know How to Keep a Sleep Journal, Go Forth and Sleep!
When you know how to keep a sleep journal, your roller coaster of a brain can’t keep you hostage anymore. Put your thoughts and worries to rest (sorry, bad pun!) and finally get some rest yourself.
I know it’s easy to turn to harmful OTC sleeping pills when you’re mind is racing at 4 a.m., but it’s better to use natural sleep remedies, like journaling, to fall asleep.