Do This One Simple Thing to Fall Asleep Faster

Sleep to

Sleep to

Students stayed in the lab during a weekday night, and were given a five-minute writing assignment.

WRITING a more "to do" list at bedtime helps individuals get to sleep more rapidly, a report observed.Folks who spent five moments jotting down a list of forthcoming tasks sailed off eight moments quicker.

About 40 percent of Americans have problems falling asleep and they spend billions every year on sleep aids and remedies.

To determine which theory would prove correct, researchers kept the two groups in the laboratory for four nights during the week, where their sleep was tracked using electrodes to monitor their brain activity. He suspects that if people were asked to merely think of a to-do list in their head, they'd have much more trouble falling asleep. One is that writing about the future would lead to increased worry about unfinished tasks and delay sleep, while journaling about completed activities should not trigger worry. And in fact, they did find that people who wrote longer lists of completed tasks took longer to fall asleep, compared to those who wrote shorter ones.

Half of the people were asked to take five minutes to write down, in bullet points or in paragraph form, "everything you have to keep in mind to do tomorrow and over the next few days", the study authors write.

"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", says lead author Michael Scullin, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University.

One group was asked to write down everything they needed to do not forget to do the next day or over the next few days.

"The alternative hypothesis is that writing a to-do list will "offload" those thoughts and reduce worry", he said.

Nine minutes of extra sleep may not seem like a lot, but it's comparable to the improvement seen in clinical trials for some prescription sleep medications now on the market, says Scullin.

Students were instructed they could go to bed at 10:30 p.m., and "we had them in a controlled environment", Scullin said. "It was simply lights out after they got into bed".

Prof Scullin said: "Measures of personality, anxiety and depression might moderate the effects of writing on falling asleep, and that could be explored in an investigation with a larger sample". "We recruited healthy young adults, and so we don't know whether our findings would generalize to patients with insomnia, though some writing activities have previously been suggested to benefit such patients".

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