What is the Best Time of Day to Journal?

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Journaling is as popular today as it has ever been. In fact, according to penheaven.co.uk, around 1 in 6 adults in the UK keep a journal. [1] Although most people write in their journal last thing at night, others like to use theirs at the start or during the day instead. So, when is the best time of day to journal?

Threads on Reddit and Coach.me have users divided, with the consensus being that you should go with whatever works best for you. [2] [3] Some like to journal early, saying it helps them plan their day and work more productively. Others prefer to journal before bed to offload their thoughts and get a night of better sleep. If you haven’t found your perfect time to journal yet, keep reading to learn the pros and cons of each time of day.


Journaling First Thing in the Morning

For some people, there’s no better way to start their day than by writing a journal (maybe they’ll grab a coffee first!). This is most often the case for people who use journaling to plan ahead or inspire themselves. For example, an entrepreneur may use their journal to help them create and action their business plan. Others may use it to write a goal for the day as part of a personal development journal, while some just want to remind themselves of meetings and social gatherings they have planned.


Journaling During the Day

With so many creative uses for notebooks and journals, there are several times during the day when you might want to write in one. For example, a fitness journal can be a great way to help you achieve better health, but they work most effectively when updated several times throughout the day, such as after meals and workouts. Journals used to aid learning, such as picking up a new language, should be used during lesson time. And journals to help manage finances can be used whenever you get paid or need to calculate loan repayments.

Journaling in the Evening

Writing in your journal after dinner can be an excellent time to reflect on the day without waiting until bedtime. Whatever you decide to write about is up to you, but popular choices include reflecting on what’s happened during the day or thinking more about what you want to achieve the following day.

Many career professionals like to journal at the end of their working day. This gives them a chance to write about how any projects they are working on are progressing, track their goals and achievements or deal with negative interactions with colleagues.


Journaling Before Bed

According to Mental Health UK, almost one in five adults doesn’t get enough sleep, with 37% citing work being the reason they struggle to fall asleep. [4] This is also one of the main reasons why most people prefer to journal before going to bed. Our lives are busy, chaotic and often stressful, meaning that when we go to bed, our thoughts are racing at a hundred miles per hour. Offloading these thoughts into a journal can help to clear your mind or better process whatever you’re thinking about, allowing you to sleep more easily.

Journaling before bed is good for those who keep a worry journal, vision planner or a simple diary. If you’re writing a journal before bed because you’re feeling stressed about something, try finishing each entry by writing one thing you can do the following day to improve the situation.

Even if you’re not worrying or feeling stressed, writing a journal before bed can help you fall asleep. An independent study found that those who write a to-do list just before bed fall asleep more quickly than those who write about completed tasks. [5]

Journaling before bed

Note: Many things can keep us awake at night. A journal is just one tool that can help with short-term sleep problems but consult your doctor if your sleep problems happen regularly.

More Journal Writing Tips

If you want to start writing a journal, don't settle for a basic lined notebook. Your journal is an extension of yourself, and its design should reflect that. A hardback journal will be more durable than a standard notebook, and there are hundreds of fantastic designs available, including cute, quirky, elegant and simple styles.


  1. https://www.penheaven.co.uk/blog/diary-survey-results
  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/Journaling/comments/km56id/best_time_of_day_to_journal/
  3. https://www.coach.me/questions/39109-what-is-the-best-time-to-journal-morning-before-beginning-your-day-or-at-night-at-the-end-of-the-day
  4. https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/sleep/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29058942/

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