A Trick to Relieve Worries and Improve Sleep

By AcmeCorp
March 07, 2023

Q: I’ve heard that writing your thoughts down before bed helps get things out of your head and onto paper, but I also find that writing wakes me up instead of putting me to sleep. Thoughts?

Jared Minkel, Ph.D.: It can be helpful to write down thoughts that might keep you awake, but I usually recommend trying this a few hours before bed. Think about what might keep you up at night and come up with only the very next step you need to take to make progress on the problem. Don’t try to solve the whole thing at one time. Do this at a time when you can think clearly and really give it your full attention. Then, if it starts to bother you at bedtime, when you need to rest, you can give yourself permission to ignore it. Remind yourself that you already thought about this when you were mentally sharp and that you can revisit it tomorrow if it’s important, but right now is the time to rest. This technique might not be best if the issue on your mind is an unsolvable problem or if thinking about it gets you too angry or sad—in those cases, you might be better off using distraction techniques.