If you have trouble falling asleep, researchers from Baylor University have found that writing a “to-do” list at bedtime may help.
“We live in a 24/7 culture in which our to-do lists seem to be constantly growing and causing us to worry about unfinished tasks at bedtime,” said lead author Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience. “Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract nighttime difficulties with falling asleep.”
The study of 57 university students, conducted in Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, was published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Participants were divided into two groups. One group were asked to write down everything they needed to remember to do the next day or over the next few days; the other to write about tasks completed during the previous few days. Bedtime was 10.30pm and it was lights out after they got into bed.
After analyzing the results, they found that those who wrote to-do lists fell asleep an average of 9 minutes faster than those who jotted down things they already finished. The more specifically participants wrote their to-do list, the faster they subsequently fell asleep.