If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, your ticket to snooze town might be making a to-do list.
A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology had a group of people either write down a list of things they had already accomplished or a to-do list of things they need to complete over the next few days.
The groups then slept in a laboratory where their sleep was monitored. The to-do list people fell asleep an average of nine minutes faster than the people who wrote down things they had already completed.
Those that got thorough with their to-do lists and wrote down a number of details did even better, falling asleep 15 minutes faster than everyone else. Scientists think the key is offloading the to-do list. Without writing things down, we’ll often lay in bed and cycle through that to-do list in our heads, preventing sleep from happening.
If you need to do a dozen things tomorrow running through them all can wind you up rather than wind you down. When you write things down, you’re ensuring you’re not going to forget them. That reduces your stress level and frees your mind up for sleep.