Many people experience difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives. Sleep difficulty may affect physical and mental health. Lack of sleep may also cause frequent headaches. Try writing a "to-do" list at bedtime as it may aid in falling asleep, a new study suggests.
"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 night time difficulties with falling asleep," said lead author of the study Michael K. Scullin from Baylor University, in the US.
The study compared sleep patterns of participants who took five minutes to write down upcoming duties versus participants who chronicled completed activities.
For the study, published in Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers monitored electrical brain activity using electrodes on a group of healthy young adults. They completed a writing assignment for five minutes prior to overnight polysomnography recording in a controlled sleep laboratory.
They were randomly assigned to write about tasks that they needed to remember to complete the next few days (to-do list) or about tasks they had completed the previous few days (completed list).
Participants in the to-do list condition fell asleep significantly faster than those in the completed-list condition.
The more specifically participants wrote their to-do list, the faster they subsequently fell asleep, whereas the opposite trend was observed when participants wrote about completed activities.
Therefore, to facilitate falling asleep, individuals may derive benefit from writing a very specific to-do list for five minutes at bedtime rather than journaling about completed activities, the researchers noted.