Writing A To-Do List For Better Sleep
If you have trouble falling asleep, you may be able to help solve the problem by taking five minutes to jot down a to-do list at bedtime. Researchers at Baylor University’s Sleep, Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory tested this strategy with 57 students who agreed to spend a night in the sleep lab. Lead researcher Michael K. Scullin noted that there are two schools of thought about bedtime list making: one is that it “offloads” thoughts about unfinished tasks so you can sleep while the other is that it will increase worry about how much you have to do. Some of the students were asked to write a “to do” list, while others listed tasks they had completed in recent days. The researchers used high-tech overnight polysomnography to measure the students’ electrical brain activity during sleep. They reported that students who wrote to-do lists fell asleep significantly faster than those who listed completed tasks. And the more specific the tasks on their “to do” lists, the faster the students fell asleep. Here’s the catch: because the study participants were healthy young adults, the researchers don’t know how applicable the finding are to other people, including those with insomnia.
Michael K. Scullin et al, “The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018; 147 (1): 139 DOI: 10.1037/xge0000374
Also in this week’s bulletin: