In your absence, “open-when letters” can soothe the heartache of those who are missing you dearly, whether through long-distance relationships or something more finite. If you’re expecting to be absent or out of town, then plan out some letters to help calm the weary heart of a loved one. They’ll celebrate what truly matters, expose your love's intent, and even inspire a continued purposefulness.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter?
- Why or When Should You Send an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter?
- Steps for Writing an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter
- ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Gift Ideas
- DIY ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Gift Ideas
- ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter Examples
Before you gather up your thoughts, pens, and paper to compose some letters to your loved ones, look below. Afterward, find a quiet spot where you can reassure your friends with some heartfelt words.
What Is an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter?
"Open when" letters apply to the group letters that serve as instructions to the recipient. Some parents write them in preparation for their children on essential days, preparing handfuls to accompany any future occasion.
You might even have heard of lovers or partners who write them before a long work trip or an uneasy doctor's appointment. They'll slip one into a coat pocket, with the envelope saying, "open when you get your raise." or "open after you give your speech." However, the "open when you can't sleep" letter is slightly different.
This letter comforts the sleepless nights when anxiety is substantial, or loneliness is too overwhelming to find sleep. When a loved one writes these, they may have the forethought to want to take care of someone, knowing that their absence will cause anxiety or depression. Or maybe they know you're a hopeless romantic who laments any distance or time apart. This can be the case even if you're taking a flight home for the weekend to see your parents.
Still, and even more heartfelt, is the "open when you can't sleep" letter designed to reach you in the advent of your loved one's premature death. Perhaps that author understands that their terminal illness will leave a spouse feeling empty or alone. Nevertheless, they want to offer as much comfort as possible in the days or years ahead. It's then that the "open when" letter becomes instructions for dealing with their loss or perhaps learning to move on or let go.
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Why or When Should You Send an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter?
Finding the best when and why of an "open when you can't sleep" letter is one part subjective, the other part intuitive. One wouldn't necessarily write one of these letters for a random Wednesday when the world is spinning in the right direction, and everything's coming up roses. But you could also write them for any odd occasion, a just because, or indeed, it's Wednesday. In any case, let's get a little more specific.
The When. Most people write "open when you can't sleep" letters when there's a pending absence or other stressful situation on the horizon. One such occasion will be when someone is convalescing, which invariably keeps your loved one up at night due to discomfort, pain, or depression.
Another will be if you know anyone going through a medical procedure that makes their mind race too fast to find rest when it's needed most. Still, another circumstance will be when you're aware of your time left and want to write as many letters as possible to loved ones. This way, you can still share your heart--or even make them laugh.
The Why. Given the many opportunities to be a support structure or steady rock even when you're absent, the answer to this question is, really, why wouldn't you? Well, to answer this is to answer why anyone cares about the health and well-being of any loved one.
Why would you send your wife a series of letters when she's about to become a widow? Because you adore her. Why would you send a letter to your friend who's going through chemotherapy or recovering from major surgery? Because you want to help ease their pain.
Steps for Writing an ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter
In composing an “open when” letter for when your partner or friend can’t sleep, first you need to imagine their restless scenario. Once you’re in that frame of mind, imagine what you might say to your friend to help ease their pain or anxiety. Once your ready, start writing.
Check out the steps below for some guidance on what to say:
1. Celebrate their importance to you
Let them know how and why they matter to you, citing specific examples. For a moment, they might forget their worries and concentrate on that instead.
2. Recall cherished moments
Make a list of all the firsts you’ve shared.
- First date, kiss, movie, or snuggle
- First ‘I love you’
- The moment you know they were the one
- The last moment you spent realizing they were forever in your heart
- The silly thing they do that always makes you laugh
- Anything that they don’t know they do, but you see all the time
3. Support them
Stress, anxiety, depression, and a host of other things can keep people awake at night. If you've put all of your listening skills to work before writing this letter, you already know what’s keeping your friend awake.
Instead of bringing up your friend’s struggles, prop them up on a pedestal.
Here are a few examples to get your mind flowing:
For job-related stresses
Remind them of how you admire their accomplishments:
- “I respect how bold and humble you are in your job.”
- “Your coworkers respect you and your work ethic.”
- “I’m not one who likes silver-lining pep talk, but I see one this time. Let me tell you why.”
For family and personal relationship dramas
Remind them that they are loving and kind:
- “You’ve always taken the higher road no matter how wrong others can be.”
- “Regardless of the situation, you’re always generous with your love.”
- “Even though there’s some drama happening with your siblings right now, soon you're going to be better than you were before.”
Recall moments when they’ve inspired your awe or love:
- “From the moment we met, I’ve been impressed by your tenacity and courage.”
- “No matter what you endure or hold inside, your loveliness and kindness shine most of all.”
- “I have conquered so much in this life because of you. You are my rock.”
For feelings of lonesomeness or confinement
Give your connection a definition.
- “Your heart is embedded in my soul, it keeps me alive when we’re distant.”
- “My heart is full of joy knowing that you are mine.”
- “You are my world; the love of my life; the sun in my morning and the moon of my night.”
For grief due to loss
Empathize with them, so they know they’re not alone:
- “I know you miss your dad right now because I still miss mine, and it's been 15 years.
- “Bleue became my cat, too, and I miss her just as much as you do.”
- “I’m never far away. Just close your eyes and think of me. When your hands feel warm, it’s because I’m holding them. When your feet are no longer cold, it’s because I’m with you.”
4. Offer gratitude
Giving and receiving gratitude offers a state of calm in the brain by releasing dopamine and serotonin. That means both you and your loved one will have the benefit of these neurotransmissions.
So, let them know all the things for which you’re grateful. It could be the difference between a long, sleepless night and one filled with sweet dreams.
5. Motivate them to have a goodnight’s sleep
When a partner is absent from home, it can seem like time crawls at a snail's pace. Here's a selection of “counting-down-the-clock” and “see you in your dreams” phrases with a touch of sweetness to convince them that a good night's sleep will have the best results.
- “Six days and a wake-up and then I’ll be home to hold you again.”
- “Tuesday night. In three more mornings, I will be home again.”
- “I know you’re lying in bed wide awake, but the sooner you go to sleep, the quicker I’ll be there with you again.”
- “If you’re awake, I can’t find you in your dreams.”
- “I said you would always visit you in your sleep, but if you’re awake, then how can I hold you again? Go to sleep, darling. I miss you.”
- “I don’t want you to fall asleep on the road tomorrow, so please get some sleep.”
‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Gift Ideas
Here are a few options to help your loved one fall asleep and they won't even have to leave the bed.
1. Basket of herbal remedies for anxiety
Herbs like chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm can calm nerves. You’ll find them available as teas, lotions, sachets, and candles. There’s no need for a giant display, just put together a little collection so that they have a few options.
2. Digital music
Although mixtapes and CD playlists are a thing of the past, you can now create USB flash drives of the music for your loved one.
Choose music that will soothe, like ambient or natural sounds. Include some songs about not giving up if they’re appropriate.
3. Sleep mask
Weighted sleep masks are known for their ability to promote sleep. Here’s why:
- They block out light better.
- Some come with aromatherapy options.
- The pressure from the mask induces a calmness.
4. Essential Oils and a Diffuser
Lavender is the standard go-to for relaxation and therapeutic benefits. Studies show that aside from supporting sleep, it has anxiolytic properties that, when inhaled, relieve restlessness and psychological distress.
That’s why lavender essential oils paired with a diffuser make such a helpful sleep aid.
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DIY ‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Gift Ideas
Check out these homemade + natural ‘open when’ sleep aids. We’ve included the items or ingredients and the steps you’ll need to make some fantastic DIY gifts for anyone on your list.
1. Lavender sachets
You can accomplish this task with or without a sewing machine, but you’ll need:
- Fabric with an open weave for breathability
- Dried lavender – buds and flowers only
- Lavender essential oil to enhance the scent
- Ribbon to assemble and tie the sachet shut
If you’re using a ribbon, cut the fabric into a circle. Place some dried lavender in the center, then add a few drops of essential oil. Next, gather up the edges of the circle so the lavender is inside. Leave enough fabric at the top to loop and tie the ribbon around the gathered edges.
2. Lavender bouquets or hanging bundles
This is the easiest, almost do-nothing gift you can buy. If you’re shopping during the summer, your local farmer’s market may have some lavender growers selling locally produced lavender. Off-season, look online for some reputable but inexpensive options.
You need to add the dried flowers to a vase or assemble them to hang by your loved one’s bedside.
Pro-tip: Don’t worry if the ribbon isn’t suitable for your aesthetic because you can always replace it with one from a local fabric shop.
3. Homemade salve
If you’re up for the challenge of making a homemade essential oil salve, follow these quick steps. You’ll need:
- Infused essential herbal oil
- Double boiler
- Glass jars with lids
To make, warm one cup of infused herbal oil in the double boiler with one ounce of beeswax (shavings or beads). Stir the mixture until melted. Pour into jars. Then seal.
Pro-tip: You can add essential oil to the salve for more potency. Do so just after you pour the wax into the jar, giving it a little stir.
‘Open When You Can’t Sleep’ Letter Examples
Below are some ideas for what to write when work gets in the way. When life takes your loved one away, remind them of your relationship's foundation. Feel free to use the examples as a template and change them as needed.
To the Missus,
It's Tuesday night! In three more mornings, I'll be home again. This trip has made me realize how much I need to be near you at night. But at least my heart is full of joy knowing that you're mine, even if the bed is empty. I have conquered so much in this life because of you.
I know you feel things more deeply than most and that sometimes it makes you so sad. Remember that no matter what you endure or hold inside, your loveliness and kindness shines most of all. You are my rock, sweetheart, so hold on a little longer. Soon, I'll be home every night.
I can’t wait to see you.
All my love,
P.S. The mask smells like lavender, and it’s supposed to help you sleep.
You’re awake. I wish I were still there, and I know you do, too. I miss you, too.
Maybe you didn't realize it, and perhaps you couldn't see how your eyes changed from blue to gray as we talked, but I could always tell how you were feeling because of those eyes. When you laugh, they're as blue as the ocean. And when you're serious, they're a little green. But when you're heartbroken, they're as gray as any Seattle winter day. I just wanted you to know that I have always seen you, heard you, and listened even when you weren't speaking.
So that you know, I have loved loving you all of these years. And I am so grateful you finally said yes after three proposals, because everything—all of it has been worth it. I know it's not easy right now, and you're so sad, and I wish I were there to take all your pain away, but I'm never far away. Just close your eyes and think of me. When your hands feel warm, it's because I'm holding them. When your feet are no longer cold, it's because I'm lying next to you.
So, please try to sleep. Because, if you’re awake, I can’t find you in your dreams.
See you soon…
Do you remember that CD you made for me when we first started dating? Well, I made something for you. Go ahead and plug it into the laptop. I'll wait.
So, this playlist is from our first date at the French restaurant on Summit Ave. I called them the next day for a song list but never got around to do anything with it. Do you remember how cramped it was? I didn't even want to use the bathroom because we had to move two tables to get in and out. From that very first date, I knew I'd marry you.
Things might be tough right now, but you're always generous with your love, and I still feel that. Just know that I am grateful for you always. We'll get through this.
All my love,
Reassuring Loved Ones
The most important thing to remember when writing an “open when you can’t sleep” letter is to offer your love. However that comes out, however you phrase it, as long as you can show this, it’ll be perfect.