Instead of cycling those to-do lists in your head before falling asleep, a group of researchers recommends actually writing down a to-do list before bedtime to dramatically improve your sleep.
New research suggests writing down the tasks that need to be completed the next day lowers anxiety levels and helps us get a truly restorative shut-eye.
Scientists at Baylor University, in Texas, found that the study participants who wrote a to-do list with tasks for the next day just before bedtime fell asleep faster and woke up more rested.
The new research included 57 participants who were asked to either write a to-do list for the next day or write a list of completed tasks from previous days. All participants had only 5 minutes on their hand to write the lists before going to bed at 10:30 p.m.
The experiment was conducted in a sleep lab, so participants lacked any distractions like electronic devices and their rapid eye movement was tracked while they were resting.
Writing a To-Do List Linked to Better Nighttime Sleep
The study revealed that those who wrote a to-do list had no troubles with falling asleep afterwards. In fact, they fell asleep 9 minutes earlier than the other group, which marks an improvement only comparable to sleeping medication.
Also, the more detail-oriented the to-do list participants were about their tasks, the faster they fell asleep.
Lead author Dr. Michael K. Scullin noted that most people cycle their to-do lists in their heads. Yet, this doesn’t help them to offload their responsibilities, so their anxieties lead to nighttime difficulties.
The study’s results appeared this week in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Researchers are confident that larger trials tracking the effects of writing to-do lists before bedtime could help find ways to improve insomnia without medication.
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