Everyone has those nights spent tossing and turning in bed, wide awake, panicking about all the things they have to do come morning. Well, instead of suffering through anxiety-driven insomnia, there’s now a science-backed fix: writing a to-do list before you go to sleep.
In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers had half of the 57 participants spend five minutes writing down a list of things they needed to do or remember, and the other half writing down a list of tasks they had recently completed.
“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.” —Dr. Michael K. Scullin, lead study author
“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,” Michael K. Scullin, PhD, lead study author and director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, said in a press release. “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.”
After comparing sleep patterns, researchers found that the participants who wrote down their to-do lists fell asleep much faster than those who listed tasks they had already completed. Better yet, the more specific the to-do list, the speedier the folks dozed off, the study reported. So, instead of a long list of tasks stressing them out, it actually got rid of all their worries, allowing them to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
The next time you’re struggling to catch some zzz’s, give this technique a whirl—it’ll gift you some beauty rest and make you feel great about the chic planner you bought to stay organized this year.
Here’s exactly how to sleep well on a plane, even in coach. Also, find out why getting more sleep could minimize your sugar intake.
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