Keeping a diary – something I was always encouraged to do as a child – seems to me a strange thing to do as an adult. Even as a child I lacked the discipline to keep it up for long.
However with a number of studies highlighting the various health benefits of keeping a regular journal – especially before bed, perhaps its time to reconsider.
If you also need some convincing read on; these 10 benefits of writing before bed might encourage you to change your mind.
1. Writing Improves Our Memory
There have been numerous studies indicating how keeping a diary can help improve our memory. It is understood that as a result of our brain focusing on the meaning of each word or combinations of words as we write – that our brains retrace the links or synaptic bridges for each thought in our memory – strengthening the link as we do so. Keeping a diary forces us to recollect our memories and therefore strengthens each piece of information in our memory.
2. A Diary Encourages a State of Mindfulness
Writing a diary helps us to actively engage the various thoughts we have that cycle through our mind continuously – and to bring them to the forefront of our mind after which we can then let them go. Whether frustrations from the day that has passed of concerns for tasks or events ahead become less troublesome when we engage them directly.
3. A Diary Can Help Us Achieve Our Goals
While this may sound rather far fetched to some – consider that we don’t achieve many of the goals we set for our selves at the start of the year as we simply lose sight of them. Documenting our progress in achieving these goals helps us to keep focus and measure how we are doing in achieving them.
Writing goals helps to inform our brain that a goal is important and our reticular activating system (RAS) flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve the goal and the more detail behind a goal, the likelihood of achieving it.
4. Writing Improves Our EQ
EQ or Emotional Intelligence is our ability to understand and manage our emotions, and those of others we interact with. Keeping a diary helps us contemplate our emotions on paper and increase our self-awareness and empathy with others. By keeping a diary we can form a better understanding of the situations of others and what they are experiencing.
Being able to relate to others situations enables us to connect more deeply, find compromise and influence their thinking.
5. Diaries Encourages Focus & Self-Discipline
Keeping a daily diary involves making time to write on a daily or otherwise regular basis – and so is an act of discipline if we are to maintain it. As discipline becomes habit they becomes easier to keep and spread, allowing you to become more disciplined in other areas of your life as well.
6. Writing Before Bed Improves Our Sleep…
Writing before bed (on pen and paper, rather than a digital device) has been found to help us fall asleep more quickly and wake up less often. Throughout the day, we accumulate many different thoughts and concerns – many of which cycle through our minds continuously.
By writing down some of these thoughts or concerns we are able to reduce the amount of time we spent thinking or worrying about each. When we decrease this we reduce the barriers to our sleep.
7. ..Which Improves Our Gut Bacteria & Our Health
Sleep is crucial to the health of our gut microbiome and our health. Poor sleep catches up with us quickly to affects the health of our gut. A Swedish study found that with as little as two nights of reduced sleep participants were found to have significant changes to their microbiome for the worse. After just two nights consisting of 4.5 hours of sleep, certain ‘friendly’ or commensal bacteria strains were reduced by as much as 50% and reduced their sensitivity to insulin—and their microbiomes began to resemble those of obese individuals.1