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You've probably heard that you should write out your worries right before getting into, or even while in, bed, but it may be even more effective to do it a couple of hours before tucking in, says Catherine Darley, a naturopathic doctor (ND) and founder of the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine
in Seattle. When she experienced a death in the family and had a hard time sleeping for six weeks, she practiced journaling two hours before bed. Two hours before—rather than when you're already in bed—gives you time to relax after the writing is done and allows you to focus on something else. "This helped make sure that my thoughts were put to bed before I got into bed," she says. And a brain dump for 10 minutes is short enough that you're not getting entrenched in your thoughts, Darley says. (Research shows that writing about anxiety helps boost test scores
in students. Discarding your worries, literally throwing them in the trash,
can also give them less power.) The same can work if you're dealing with raw emotions, for whatever reason, or anxiety over a looming situation. In the past 10 years, Darley says her patients find that this is one of the most effective strategies for getting to sleep.