Many of us toss and turn trying to get to sleep at night. And everyone has experienced one of those nights when sleep alludes us. But one simple thing can help us to fall asleep easier and quicker.
Psychologists at Baylor University have discovered that making a “to-do” list before laying down to sleep helps people fall asleep faster. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology concluded that people who wrote down the tasks they needed to do the next day fell asleep more quickly than those who did not.
Past research has established that organizing your thoughts (read: making a to-do list of things we want to accomplish in the short term) helps to reduce stress. When we reduce stress in our lives it is easier to relax and, thus, fall asleep.
Researchers recruited 57 average adults – from 18 to 30 – to execute a sleep study overnight in a lab. Half the subjects were asked to write down a to-do list of things they wanted to accomplish the next day. The other half was asked to write down a list of things they had already accomplished.
Those who wrote to-do lists fell asleep 9 minutes faster than those who wrote about the tasks they had already completed. Additionally, those who wrote longer and more complete to-do lists fell asleep more quickly than those who wrote shorter, more general lists.
“We think that when people offload everything in their mind that might be hard to remember otherwise, it gives them some relief from that rumination,” Michael Scullin, lead author and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, said.
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to maintain our health. By taking the time to construct a simple to-do list for the next day before we go to bed, we can help ourselves to have a more restful sleep and a more productive tomorrow.
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