While lying in bed at night and trying to fall asleep, sometimes it takes a while before my mind quiets down. In the meantime I am thinking about various things, either general or what I have to do the next day.

Some of those ideas are worth preserving, and I don't want to forget them. I could either:

  1. try really hard to remember all of them the next morning when I get up

  2. get up, turn on the light, and put the ideas on paper

  3. keep paper and pen at bedside, and try to write in the dark, without getting from bed

  4. have an audio recording device at my bedside, and record my thoughts

The problem is, (1) is unreliable, and only works for one or two simple ideas. Getting out of bed (2) interrupts my falling-asleep process and i have to start all over again. (3) only works if I need to write few words, not for coherent sentences. (4) might work, but I haven't tried that one yet (also, this one seems logistically the most complicated).

Are there some better ways how to record my thoughts?

PS: the idea for asking this question occurred to me last night, when I was trying to fall asleep.

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    VTC: Questions dealing with personal productivity and self-improvement tips, memorization and learning techniques, etc. are outside the scope of this site. – Just Do It Mar 15 '16 at 15:55
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    Where can we put these type of "mind hacks" questions? For which site is it suitable? – Tharindu Sathischandra Mar 19 '16 at 10:53
  • You could try texting yourself. It works for me. – M_Griffiths Mar 27 '16 at 8:49
  • @JustDoIt While this may involve those things this seems very much like part of the question could involve a life hack. And there are reasons to want to do this which don't involve productivity, self-improvement, memorization or learning - For instance, I like to record my dreams when I wake up, which touches none of those areas. – Michael Apr 26 '20 at 17:55

Personally, I have very often reached out to my bedside table and found some object like a book, box of tissues, drink coaster etc, then I throw it across the room into a location where it doesn't belong. In the morning, when I wake and get out of bed, I immediately see the object and it forces my brain to reconstruct the thought process that led to it being there. I then write/type the idea somewhere before the daily routine causes me to forget about it.

  • it's funny, I have done exactly the same thing. It worked, but this method has limitations when you want to remember several independent ideas. – Martin Vegter Mar 13 '16 at 21:29
  • @MartinVegter I agree. Also, it will only work at all if your mind works in a particular way where the unusual event is enough to spark the memory. Thankfully for me, I don't have time for more than one thought before sleep, so this trick is more than good enough. – Lefty Mar 13 '16 at 23:16

However you do it, you have to make a note or record what you're thinking - the trick is just to confine it to a few words, just to jog your memory next day. I'm prone to the 'light bulb' moment when just falling asleep too, and I regularly jot down a few words on a pad next to the bed, but I do it in the dark. If there's a lot to write, I get up and put a light on and do it, because I know, if I don't, I won't be able to sleep anyway. I've even been known to get up and turn on the desktop computer to type something really important/urgent that maybe I've forgotten to do, then return to bed and sleep - once the note/s are made, I go to sleep quite easily, because I'm not worrying about remembering to do something or being able to recall that thought...

If you've got a mobile/cellphone/smartphone, its easy to just speak into it.

  • Speaking isn't an option if you might wake up your spouse – Michael Apr 26 '20 at 17:58
  • @Michael - depends on the spouse I guess,mine never had a problem,I used to talk in my sleep quite often anyway – Bamboo Apr 26 '20 at 18:02

Put a reminder in your smartphone. In addition to a tag write a word about its specialty. Quick words in the smartphone, but when the reminder pops up - take time to think about it.

  • Priorize idea and take notes.
  • Priorize your idea or smile :) while dumping it.

For my dream journal, I keep a small notebook beside my bed, and have a reading light clipped to the back cover. If you buy a dim light, or one that can be adjusted, it should prevent too much sleep disturbance; I've never found it to affect my sleep.

  • for those of us who don't know what a Moleskin is, could you please explain that? Googling for the term does not give much sensible answers. Are you referring to a specific product ? – Martin Vegter Mar 15 '16 at 7:08
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    @MartinVegter Sorry, I changed my answer. They're a brand of notebook, but I guess that's not relevant. – Carcigenicate Mar 15 '16 at 10:25

I usually write any ideas down on sticky notes, and stick it on my phone. Usually I check time on my phone when I wake up, so that makes sure I'll see my sticky notes from previous night. I move the notes to the back of my phone, and only peel it off when the things on there is accomplished in some way and don't need to be remembered anymore.


I've been using Trello and Google's Keep save such things. These apps can be used both from my smartphone and from any computer. I sort different thoughts and themes and remove or check them off when I'm through with each idea\thought\task.

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